Taipei | Taiwan on Tuesday announced the start of construction on its soil of submarines that will add to the small fleet of overseas-made submarines it already has, amid growing military tensions with the People’s China.
The island which was at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 the refuge of the nationalists of the Kuomintang, led by Tchang Kaï-shek and defeated by the communists of Mao Tse-tung, lives since then under the threat of an invasion.
Beijing indeed considers Taiwan as a rebel province called upon to one day come into its fold, and by force if necessary.
Tensions on both sides of the Strait have continued to rise since the election in 2016 to the Taiwanese presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, from a party traditionally hostile to Beijing.
“We are showing the world Taiwan’s determination to defend its territory,” said the president during a ceremony marking the start of construction of submersibles at a shipyard in Kaohsiung (South).
The goal is to produce eight submarines, with the first expected in 2025, Taiwanese officials said. The Taiwanese Navy currently owns four submarines, two of which were produced in the United States in the 1940s.
In recent decades, the island has had to invest heavily in its defense industries due to pressure from China against countries that sell it arms.
Taiwan has made great strides in missiles and even built fighter jets. But the power of his army is beyond comparison with that of Beijing.
Washington initially approved a contract in 2001 for the supply of eight conventional submarines. But the transaction never happened.
China has built one of the most powerful fleets in the world, with nuclear-powered submarines or aircraft carriers.
Its fighters have increased their forays into the island’s air defense space this year.