While Taiwan is quite capable of building its own submarines, their sophistication and effectiveness would depend on foreign cooperation, a Washington conference was told on Tuesday.
Project 2049 Institute executive director Mark Stokes said the indigenous submarine program — which is likely to start next year and create 6,000 jobs — would be the most complex undertaking in the history of the nation.
“Taiwan has a legitimate, long-standing requirement for a modern fleet of diesel-electric submarines,” Stokes said at the Institute’s “Deep Dive” conference on Taiwan’s future submarine program.
“It is perfectly feasible for Taiwan to build submarines, but the real question is: How sophisticated a submarine can Taiwan build? How sophisticated depends on the degree of foreign assistance,” he said.
Washington sources have said that the administration of US President Barack Obama would not provide assistance with the program, but Stokes told the conference that it was his “understanding” that Taipei would go ahead anyway.
He said that while it might take 10 years for an indigenous program to put submarines into operation, there would be an immediate positive political effect.
Stokes and other speakers at the conference supported the program and encouraged the US to allow the transfer of needed technology.
However, sources said that one company had already been turned down when it applied for a license to assist with Taiwan’s submarine program management.
International affairs think tank Atlantic Council senior fellow Roger Cliff said that it was well within the realm of imagination that, within the foreseeable future, China’s leaders would decide to use force against Taiwan. He said that a purely airborne invasion would be difficult and highly risky, and that a major naval operation would be needed.
“If Taiwan can prevent landing ships from reaching its shores, then China would not have the ability to invade Taiwan,” he said.
Cliff said that submarines were part of the solution and would be difficult for Chinese forces to find and destroy. As such, the very presence of submarines in Taiwan’s navy would act as a deterrent and might persuade Beijing not to invade in the first place.
Taiwan does not have the ability to design submarines by itself and is going to need help, Cliff said.
“The best solution is for the US and Taiwan to design them jointly,” he said.
“I can see plenty of defensive and deterrent advantages to them,” Cliff added.
The more capable Taiwan is of defending itself, the more stable the region will be, he said.
US Senate Armed Services Committee senior staffer Eric Sayers said the US Department of State and the US Department of Defense provide regular briefings on the submarine issue to the committee.
He also said that a Senate delegation would travel to Taipei in February — following the presidential and legislative elections — to discuss possible ways to proceed with the submarine program.
When a new administration takes office in Washington in 2017, it should reinstitute an annual arms sales review for Taiwan, Sayers added.
Taipei could make arms sales requests every fall and Washington would make its decisions by the following spring.
Following the conference, former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia Randall Schriver said that action was long overdue on Taiwan’s submarine program.
Now president of the Project 2049 Institute, Schriver said that if the Obama administration failed to help Taiwan with the program, he hoped that the next administration — whether Republican or Democratic — would provide assistance.
“I think the requirement is clear and the path forward is clear,” he said.
Schriver said that any one of a number of steps by the US government to show support for Taiwan’s submarine program would be enough “to nudge things along in the right direction.”
‘CORNERED ENEMY’: China’s rise is threatening peace and stability, and the US would aim to restrict it with help from allies in the Asia-Pacific, Soong Hseik-wen said A draft bill on protecting Taiwan from invasion is likely to be passed by the US Congress, but it remains to be seen how US President Joe Biden’s administration would implement the act if it is passed, Taiwanese academics said on Sunday. US Senator Rick Scott and US Representative Guy Reschenthaler on Thursday reintroduced the proposed Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which was shelved in September last year due to the impending US presidential election. Arthur Ding (丁樹範), a professor at National Chengchi University’s College of International Affairs, and Soong Hseik-wen (宋學文), a professor at National Chung Cheng University’s Graduate Institute
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
‘NOT COLD ENOUGH’: Schools are disregarding Premier Su Tseng-chang’s instruction that students may wear out-of-uniform clothing to stay warm, an association said An investigative report revealed that 72.5 percent of the nation’s senior-high schools and 95.6 percent of junior-high schools punish students for wearing unapproved winter clothes in contravention of educational guidelines, lawmakers and student rights advocates said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said there is an endemic disregard for the Ministry of Education’s regulations and that private schools are more likely to contravene ministry rules. The report is a compilation of 2,856 student reports about dress code reinforcement at 425 high schools and vocational high schools, the association said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last