US to sell hi-tech parts for Taiwan’s new submarines
The Biden administration approves the sale of sonars, combat systems and periscopes. The subs will help the island face off the Chinese threat. Donald Trump had authorised US$ 18 billion in arms sales to Taiwan. China opposes Taiwanese independence.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – The United States has approved the sale to Taiwan of three key technological components for its new submarines, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng announced yesterday.
This is the first arms sale to the island authorised by the Biden administration. Taiwanese sources said that the equipment included digital sonar systems, integrated combat systems, and auxiliary equipment systems (periscopes) that the local military industry cannot produce.
In November, Taipei began construction of eight submarines, the first to be built domestically. The new vessels will boost its defences against China's rapid military modernisation. The first submarine is expected to be launched in 2024.
The island has four submarines in service that date back to the Second World War and the 1980s. China can field 76, some of them ultra-modern.
According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the mainland’s arsenal includes four submarines armed with ballistic missiles (some nuclear-capable) and six nuclear-powered submarines.
During his term of office, former President Donald Trump authorised the sale of weapons to Taiwan worth US$ 18 billion, including cruise and anti-ship missiles, as well as attack drones. His successor is maintaining the hard-line against Beijing.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the US is committed to defending the island. Adopted in 1979 after the formal diplomatic recognition of Communist China, the law does not specify the actual nature of Washington’s commitment. The "strategic ambiguity" has generated tensions with Beijing.
More recently, China has increased its pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, accused of pursuing a pro-independence agenda.
Chinese military planes are increasingly violating the island’s aerial identification zone. These intrusions are compounded by violations carried out by the naval forces of the People’s Liberation Army.
Mainland China considers Taiwan a rebel province, and has never ruled out taking it by force.
Taiwan has been de facto independent from the rest of China since 1949. That year, Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists found refuge on the island after losing the civil war against the Communists. Despite the defeat, it has continued to claim to be the Republic of China founded in 1912.