Mil­i­tary needs new sub­marines to strengthen de­fense: min­istry

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Tai­wan’s mil­i­tary on Wed­nes­day de­fended a sub­ma­rine prop dis­played at a ship com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony a day ear­lier by re­it­er­at­ing the mil­i­tary’s strong de­sire to ac­quire new sub­marines to strengthen the coun­try’s anti- sub­ma­rine ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

If the coun­try can­not ac­quire new sub­marines, it will un­der­mine the coun­try’s de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties, Deputy De­fense Min­is­ter Liu Chen-wu ( ) told the me­dia be­fore at­tend­ing a hear­ing of the Leg­is­la­ture’s For­eign Af­fairs and Na­tional De­fense Com­mit­tee.

He was re­spond­ing to ques­tions about crit­i­cism of a “pa­per sub­ma­rine” that was on a board placed in the har­bor in the Navy’s Zuoy­ing base in Kaoh­si­ung dur­ing the cer­e­mony to com­mis­sion two home-grown mil­i­tary ves­sels.

At the cer­e­mony, Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou pointed to an empty space in the har­bor, say­ing “that area is be­ing saved for the coun­try’s lo­cally made sub­marines in the fu­ture” and re­it­er­at­ing the coun­try’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to build in­dige­nous sub­marines.

The board in front of the empty area showed a photo of a sub­ma­rine and a Repub­lic of China na­tional flag to sym­bol­ize the coun­try’s “new gen­er­a­tion sub­ma­rine.”

The prop was panned as a “pa­per sub­ma­rine,” but Liu said it showed the Navy’s am­bi­tion to ac­quire subs, and he stressed that a lo­cal sub­ma­rine pro­gram was des­per­ately needed by the Navy and widely sup­ported by the public.

Tai­wan is in the process of tak­ing de­liv­ery of 12 P-3Cs from the U.S., and Liu said sub­marines were needed to work with the air­craft to strengthen the coun- try’s anti-sub­ma­rine ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Navy of­fi­cers at­tend­ing the hear­ing also said the board was used to demon­strate Tai­wan’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to get new sub­marines.

The Navy has been in talks with do­mes­tic ship­builders on a home-grown sub­ma­rine pro­gram to re­place its aging diesel-elec­tric sub­marines, the of­fi­cers said, and a de­sign of the sub­ma­rine is ex­pected to be com­pleted be­tween 2016 and 2019.

In 2001, then-U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush pro­posed to sell Tai­wan eight diesel-elec­tric sub­marines, but it was blocked by the Kuom­intang-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture in the mid-2000s af­ter a bud­get re­quest was made by the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2004.

Lit­tle progress has been made on the project since then, prompt­ing Tai­wan to seek its own so­lu­tion.

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