Taiwan building submarine fleet to mitigate Chinese threat

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at Kaohsiung attending start of construction of a submarine fleet (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at Kaohsiung attending start of construction of a submarine fleet (Photo Credit - Reuters)

Hong Kong, December 20 (ANI): In order to bolster its defensive capabilities, Taiwan is building a submarine fleet to mitigate Chinese nefarious designs to invade the island or install a naval blockade.

The construction of eight new state-of-art submarines kicked off last month at the southern port city of Kaohsiung with expected sea trials in 2025, reported CNN.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called it a "historic milestone" which "demonstrates Taiwan's strong will to the world" at a ceremony marking the beginning of the programme.

For several months, China's People's Liberation Army has been increasing military pressure on the island, sending warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone and stepping up military exercises on nearby islands, moves widely interpreted as a threat to Taipei, reported CNN.

Taiwan's planned submarines can make a big difference in thwarting Chinese expansionist design by making use of the narrow body of water separating Taiwan from mainland China.

The Taiwanese submarines are expected to be of the diesel-electric variety, running on diesel engines on the surface, but using ultra-quiet electric motors powered by long-lasting lithium-ion batteries when submerged to exert a heavy toll on the Chinese fleet.

Diesel-electric subs are easier and cheaper to build and when submerged the electric motors produce less noise than nuclear reactors. This will give them an edge over the Chinese nuclear-powered submarines as the quiet-running subs would be difficult to detect for the PLA's anti-submarine warfare (ASW) units.

Moreover, Washington has long provided arms to the territory as part of the 40-year-old Taiwan Relations Act and recently approved several major arms sales to the island valued at some USD 10 billion in total, including dozens of F-16 fighter jets, M1A2T Abrams tanks, and portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, reported CNN.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has already made his intentions clear about Taiwan as he has vowed to never allow the island to become independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades, reported CNN. (ANI)