Fri, May 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Tsai touts submarine determination

By Su Yung-yao and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at a ceremony at the Port of Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: Su Fu-nan, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that she has the courage and determination as commander in chief to lead the Republic of China (ROC) Navy, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), and CSBC Corp, Taiwan through challenges to build submarines.

“Do you?” she asked ROC Navy Commander Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), CSIST president Gao Chung-hsing (杲中興) and CSBC Chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆), to which they replied that they did.

Tsai made the remarks at the Port of Kaohsiung, where she hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the navy’s new shipbuilding site for the homegrown submarine project.

At the ceremony, she was saluted by crew onboard the SS-794 Hai Hu, or Sea Tiger submarine.

Over the past three years, although they have faced “criticism, accusations, smears and even threats” while pushing for homegrown naval vessels, they are now proving that Taiwan is capable of building its own vessels, Tsai said.

“Peace relies on national defense,” she said, adding that she is determined to achieve “autonomous national defense.”

For topographical, environmental and other reasons, Taiwan needs to be prepared for “asymmetric warfare,” she said.

Submarines would “not only dramatically increase the navy’s asymmetric warfare capabilities, but ones deployed to waters southwest and northeast of Taiwan proper would also deter enemy ships from surrounding the nation,” she said.

Of the four submarines that are in service, two — the SS-791 Hai Shi (Sea Lion) and the SS-792 Hai Bao (Seal), which were given to Taiwan by the US in 1970, are 70 years old, while the SS-793 Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) and the Hai Hu, sold to Taiwan by the Netherlands, are 30 years old, she said.

Because of Chinese pressure, the Netherlands no longer sells submarines to Taiwan, so the nation’s “only path” is to build its own submarines, she said.

The acquisition of technology and “red code” parts would be inevitable challenges, she said.

“After research and discussion, I have made up my mind to lead the navy, the institute and the shipbuilding industry to overcome these challenges,” Tsai said.

Since taking office in 2016, the national defense industry has been part of her “five plus two” innovative industries plan, allowing the national defense budget to go from being a simple matter of procurement to a matter of research, and development and production, she said.

The initiative has also driven the development of related industries and the cultivation of talent, she said.

Previously, the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference was hosted annually; last year, Taiwan and the US began hosting the conference twice a year.

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