Taiwan has developed indigenous submarine. Amidst the ongoing tension with China, it has built this submarine for protection from any possible attack.
Taiwan unveiled this submarine in the port city of Kaohsiung on Thursday. The ceremony was presided over by President Tsai Ing-wen.
US officials have warned that China may be capable of launching a military attack in the next few years.
Taiwan is a self-governing island, which China considers a rebel province. China says that one day it will regain Taiwan.
However, many observers believe that China will not immediately attack Taiwan.
At the same time, China has also been saying that it wants to “integrate” Taiwan into mainland China in a peaceful manner. China has also warned Taiwan against formally declaring independence and taking any foreign support.
China has been trying to put pressure on it through its military exercises in the Taiwan Strait. This also includes many maneuvers conducted this month.
What has the President of Taiwan said
“History will always remember this day,” President Tsai Ing-wen said as she stood in front of the giant submarine wrapped in Taiwan’s flag emblem.
He said, “The task of building submarines domestically was earlier considered impossible… but we have done it.”
Building submarines in Taiwan has been an important priority for Taiwan’s leaders, but this project gained momentum during the tenure of Tsai Ing-wen. She has almost doubled military expenditure during her tenure.
This submarine has been named ‘Haikun’. This name is taken from a huge fish, which could also fly. This name is also mentioned in ancient Chinese literature.
The construction of this submarine has cost 1.54 billion dollars. Some tests of this electric and diesel-powered submarine are still to be conducted. According to military officials, it will be inducted into the Navy by the end of 2024.
How many submarines does Taiwan want to build?
Apart from Haikun, Taiwan is working on the construction of another submarine. Taiwan plans to build a fleet of about 10 such submarines. This also includes two boats made in the Netherlands, on which missiles are planned to be deployed.
Admiral Huang Shu Kuang, head of the submarine construction project, spoke to journalists last week. He said that its goal was to prevent any Chinese attempt to encircle or naval blockade of Taiwan for attack.
He had said that if the need arises, this will also provide time for the arrival of American and Japanese forces to help Taiwan.
On Thursday, journalists had questioned the spokesperson of China’s Defense Ministry regarding Taiwan’s submarine. He said that trying to stop their military activities in the Pacific was “foolish” and “nonsense”.
He had said, “Taiwan’s reunification with mainland China cannot be prevented by force of any weapon purchased or manufactured by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.”
What does China’s assessment say?
This week, in an article published in China’s state media organization ‘Global Times’ it was said that Taiwan is day dreaming. It was said in the article that this plan is just an illusion. It was said that the Chinese military has already built a multi-dimensional anti-submarine network around the island.
At the same time, observers agree that new submarines can help in increasing Taiwan’s security.
However, Taiwan’s 10-submarine fleet will be weaker than China’s. It is said that China’s fleet currently includes more than 60 ships including submarines capable of nuclear attack and it is currently building more submarines.
But Taiwan has long adopted an asymmetric warfare strategy, aimed at building a more agile defense force to confront a larger and larger enemy.
How powerful is Taiwan’s submarine?
William Chung is a military researcher at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research. He says, “These submarines of Taiwan are engaged in guerrilla warfare with their maneuverability, lethal attack capability and surprising capabilities. These submarines can help Taiwan’s relatively small navy in taking the initiative against China’s powerful navy.”
They say that it can help in monitoring the sea lanes and straits of the network of other islands falling in this area including Taiwan, Philippines and Japan.
He said that anti-submarine warfare is still the weakest aspect of the Chinese Navy. This is Taiwan’s only chance to take advantage of this.
Drew Thompson, a former US Defense Ministry official, is currently a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore. He says the epicenter of the China-Taiwan naval conflict may not be part of the island’s eastern coast, where the sea is deeper and where submarines can be most effective. Instead, the main battlefield will be in the shallow waters off the west coast opposite mainland China.
He says that “the submarine is not intended for a counter-attack role… This increased capability may be useful in complicating Chinese military operations, but it is not decisive.”
How effective these submarines will actually be will largely depend on how Taiwan deploys them.
Chi Chung is a defense researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a Taiwanese think tank. He says that apart from intimidation, these submarines can also be used to attack Chinese ships. Apart from this, they can also be used to lay bombs in Chinese ports, disrupt oil supplies and destroy facilities on the Chinese coast.
He says that more importantly, Taiwan has been successful in designing and manufacturing a submarine.
From which countries did Taiwan ask for help to build submarines?
The combat system of American defense company Lockheed Martin has been used in Haikun. Torpedoes made in America will be deployed in it.
America is Taiwan’s main ally. According to a report by news agency Reuters, at least six other countries including Britain have helped Taiwan in the supply of its equipment, technology and talent.
Admiral Huang told Nikkei Asia that he had personally contacted military officials in the US, Japan, South Korea and India for help. However, he did not tell which countries finally agreed to help him.
It is also a fact that many countries and companies are “not afraid to supply equipment” to Taiwan’s major defense program. Drew Thompson says that this is an indicator of an important change in geopolitics.
Chi Chung says that some members of the international community believe that “this is an indicator of not trusting China and being angry with it” and this should cause trouble to China.
Taiwan and China preparations
This ceremony of unveiling Taiwan’s domestic submarine took place a day after China announced military exercises. China says its military exercises are meant to firmly counter the arrogance of separatist forces demanding Taiwan independence.
It has once again increased the presence of its warships in the Taiwan Strait in recent weeks. Taiwan also says that Chinese military aircraft have also intruded into Taiwan’s airspace around the island.
US military and intelligence officials have given different timelines for China’s possible attack.
A date recently revealed is of 2027. It is believed that Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered his army to be capable of attacking by 2027.
However, CIA Director William Burns has also said that this does not mean that the Chinese President will then decide to attack because he doubts whether China will succeed or not.