Source: STEPHANIE YANG, If China declares war, these ham radio enthusiasts could be crucial, LA Times, 2022, Link to Original Article
In the face of a looming conflict with one of the largest global superpower’s, Taiwan’s citizens have been forced to prepare for the worst. For many years, China’s position on Taiwan has not been favorable, they believe that Taiwan should still be part of China, and the president, Xi Jinping, has called for its unification with mainland China peacefully, or by force if necessary. Many Taiwanese have begun preparing with trips to the shooting range, others have been prepping in a different way. During a disaster scenario where China attempts to take back Taiwan, there is a good chance that much of the communications systems and other outdated infrastructure will be forced offline. This environment is where hams, amateur radio operators, exercise their full potential, and the Chinese Taipei Amateur Radio League (CTARL), is there just in case this scenario actually takes place.
One member, Lee Jiann-shing has been an active member of this group and frequents a park near his home to meet with other ham radio enthusiasts and transmit together. This is a fun time for them, but the possibility looms that someday soon, they may need to use their skills to help defend their home. If war was to break out, there is a good chance the cell towers would be knocked down or deactivated by China, leaving only hams to relay information to other countries. In this scenario, hams would form the backbone of a country’s emergency communications infrastructure.
Raising tensions with their neighbor and communist global superpower China, have caused these operators to take their hobby much more seriously. One member, Shoichi Chou, recalls watching Xi Jinping call for forceful unification of Taiwan and China. This sparked his drive for technology as he figured he would need to familiarize himself with electronics in case conflict arose. (Yang, 2022)
Many people believe that today’s innovations have made ham radios obsolete. Cell phones give people the ability to communicate across the globe instantly and without set up, so why would I EVER need a ham radio? Well, what happens when the power grid is disrupted? All of the sudden, that phone becomes in essence, a brick that you can play games on. Ham radio allows operators to maintain their own stations and equipment for use in even the worst situations and without a paid phone plan! Even with the uncertain future, the atmosphere at these ham enthusiast meetups in Taiwan is lively. With people talking and discussing ham radio things, playing games, or just catching up with one another. They keep their high spirits knowing that what they are doing is not only their passion, but also provides an invaluable service to those around them.