Lazy eyes listen
Taiwan has unveiled its first-ever domestically made submarine, with President Tsai Ing-wen hopeful that the move will help the island become more “self-reliant.” The $1.5 billion sub’s inventor earlier referred to it as a “magical weapon in asymmetric warfare” with Beijing.
Tsai presided over Thursday’s launch ceremony for the first of eight new submarines expected to enter service by 2025. They will join only two other subs in Taipei’s fleet, both of which were purchased from the Netherlands over four decades ago.
“A domestically developed submarine was once thought to be an impossible task.” But now, a submarine conceived and built by our people lies before our eyes,” she added, adding that “Taiwan must take this step and let the self-reliant national defence policy to expand and flourish.”
The announcement comes amid repeated warnings from Taiwanese officials about Chinese military activity in the airspace and waters around the island, with Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng recently pointing to a string of “land, sea, air and amphibious” drills by the People’s Republic.
The submarine project began in 2016 and has cost Taipei more than $1.5 billion, with the first prototype dubbed “Hai Kun” – which translates to “mythical sea creature” in Chinese. CSBC Corp, the sub’s developer, has branded the vessel as a “magical weapon in asymmetric warfare,” a notion reiterated by Taiwan’s leader on Thursday.
During a daily press briefing later that day, a representative from China’s Defence Ministry responded to the report. When asked if the new equipment could “prevent the People’s Liberation Army from entering the Pacific” in the case of a confrontation, spokeswoman Wu Qian dismissed the notion as “nonsense.”
“It’s just a mantis trying to use its arms to stop a chariot, and it will eventually lead to its own destruction,” Wu said of Taiwan’s military modernization efforts. The official went on to say: “No matter how many weapons the [Taiwanese] authorities build or purchase, they cannot stop the general trend of the reunification of the motherland.”
Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory, and claims the right to reunify the island by force if it declares independence. Though few countries recognise Taipei as a sovereign state, the United States and its allies maintain informal but strategic ties with the self-governing region, regularly provoking China’s ire.
Following high-level conversations between US and Taiwanese officials over the last year, the Chinese military has launched huge wargames, including a massive simulated blockade after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits the island in 2022. A similar protest took place in April following a meeting between Pelosi’s replacement, Representative Kevin McCarthy, and Tsai.