Taiwan unveils new submarine to fend off China
Tsai Ing-wen presided over Thursday’s launch ceremony in Kaohsiung, a port city.
China may be able to mount an invasion within the next few years, according to US officials.
Taiwan is a self-governing island that China regards as a renegade province it intends to reclaim one day.
According to most observers, China will not attack Taiwan in the near future, and Beijing has said it seeks peaceful reunification with Taiwan.
At the same time, it has warned against Taiwan formally declaring independence or receiving foreign support. Several military drills were conducted this month in the Taiwan Strait to put pressure on the island.
Standing in front of the towering submarine draped in Taiwan’s flag emblem, Ms Tsai said, “History will always remember this day.”
It had previously been considered impossible to build a submarine domestically, but we did it.
According to military officials, the diesel-electric submarine will undergo several tests before being delivered to the navy by the end of 2024. A mythical massive fish that can also fly that appears in classic Chinese literature has been given the name Haikun.
A second one is currently in production. Eventually, Taiwan intends to operate a fleet of 10 submarines – including two older Dutch-made boats – and equip them with missiles.
Admiral Huang Shu-kuang, head of the domestic submarine programme, said last week that the goal was to prevent China from encircling Taiwan for an invasion.
Furthermore, it would buy Taiwan time until US and Japanese forces arrive to assist its defence.