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Taiwan launches first locally built submarine amid China’s invasion threats

Taiwan on Thursday launched its first domestically built submarine amid China threats.

• September 28, 2023
Taiwan's submarine, Hai Kun
Taiwan’s submarine, Hai Kun [Credit; Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo VIA Al Jazeera]

Taiwan on Thursday launched its first domestically built submarine amid China threats.

Taiwan faces a growing military threat from China. Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, said building submarines domestically was an important combat force to protect Taiwan’s borders.

“Today will be remembered in the history, we did it,” Ms Tsai said.

She said this at the launching ceremony in southern Kaohsiung City.

She added that it was once regarded as impossible for Taiwan to build its own submarines.

“Building submarines domestically is not only a goal but also a concrete practice to firmly protect our country,” noted Ms Tsai.

Ms Tsai said in 2025, the new submarine will join two submarines purchased from the Netherlands in the 1980s.

“Taiwan then will have three submarines with full combat capabilities in service,’’ the president said.

Sandra Oudkirk, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, which served as Washington’s de facto embassy, attended the ceremony. Trade representatives from South Korea and Japan, who are based in Taiwan, were also there.

The new submarine, named Hai Kun in Mandarin, or Narwhal, would undergo a harbour acceptance test from Sunday before testing at sea.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s naval command said that building submarines domestically was an important policy for Taiwan’s national defence independence.

According to Taiwan’s national defence report released early this month, the navy of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aims to gain control over strategic positions in the Pacific by 2035.

On Thursday, Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese Defence Ministry, said that preventing the PLA from entering the Pacific is nonsense.

A programme for the development of eight submarines was launched in December 2016. In May 2019, Tsai hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for the island’s first shipyard for self-built submarines.

CSBC Corporation chairman Cheng Wen-lon said at the ceremony that more than 1,000 people were involved in building the new submarine.

The prototype, 70 metres long and 8 metres wide, is equipped with a combat system by Lockheed Martin Corp, U.S.-made MK-48 heavyweight torpedoes and UGM-84 Harpoon missiles.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning on Thursday accused Ms Tsai’s ruling party in Taiwan of undermining peace in the region.

She said Taiwanese citizens’ hard-earned money was being squandered on purchasing weapons. 

(dpa/NAN)

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