Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

MND says subs can deter China

WEAK POINT Lee Jye argued yesterday that with the submarines it wants, Taiwan could deter a possible Chinese invasion by making such a move too costly for Beijing

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said that if Taiwan procures eight diesel-powered submarines, Taiwan will be able to blockade China's sea lanes and attack its ships if Beijing starts a war against Taiwan.

"If Taiwan obtains the eight diesel-powered submarines we propose to purchase through the US, we will have the capability of blockading China's sea lanes in South China and East China seas," Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) said yesterday at the legislature.

"If China uses military action against Taiwan, the submarines will use torpedoes and submarine-launched anti-ship missiles to attack China's shipping and warships," he added.

MND Integrated Assessment Office Director-General Abe Lin (林勤經) said China has been relying more and more on trade and secure sea lanes as its economy grows.

He said the MND assessed that China will need to import 90 percent of its energy needs by 2020.

He said China currently has 30 days of oil reserves, and that it wants to reach 50 days in 2010 and 90 days in 2020.

He said, however, that even if China achieves that goal, its oil reserves would be insufficient in comparison with the US' 158-day reserves and Japan's 161-day reserves.

In addition, he said that the MND believes that by the year 2010, China will need to import 36.29 million tonnes of food, rising to 54.4 million tonnes in 2020 and 118 million tonnes in 2030.

He said China therefore requires secure sea lanes, which the MND believes is one of China's big weaknesses should it go to war against Taiwan.

Lee said the MND calculated that in 2020, Taiwan will require at least 10 submarines to patrol waters around Taiwan, including waters east of Taiwan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

He said if China takes military action against Taiwan, the 10 submarines would be able to blockade the sea lanes and attack China's warships and civilian shipping.

But he emphasized that such a force would be solely used as a deterrent.

"Please did not misunderstand or misinterpret my words," he said. "Building an advanced submarine force does not aim at attacking China, but at preventing a war and maintaining the peace."

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said China has been lacking in anti-submarine capability. Thus, if Taiwan builds an advanced submarine force, China would spend huge amounts of money on its anti-submarine force, including anti-submarine aircraft, minesweeper, mine-sweeping helicopter, anti-submarine missile, destroyers and other equipment to counter Taiwan's submarines.

Lee yesterday calculated that China would spend about US$77.5 billion on an anti-submarine force, 8.9 times the amount for the proposed purchase of eight submarines, or about US$8.7 billion.

He said the huge spending on China's anti-submarine capability would exclude China's focus on offensive weapons.

Lee Jye yesterday said that if the legislature approves the submarines budget this year, the US would deliver the first submarine to Taiwan in 2113 and the eighth in 2119.

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