While China today showed off its military strength during its annual grand parade in Beijing, neighboring Taiwan has allocated $92.55 million towards beefing up its naval strength by building its own diesel-electric submarines.
There has been talk of the submarine build up since 2000 when technical and political constraints sunk a deal that the small Island state, whose sovereignty is disputed by the Chinese, had with the U.S. to purchase eight diesel-electric submarines.
The expansion plans comes at a time when the other regional navies build their submarine fleets in strategic moves against China’s growing naval presence in Asian waters.
Although Taiwan’s military overall is considered modern, its submarine fleet of four is considered out of date with two dating back to World War Two. China is known to have 70 submarines, dozens of surface ships and a recently modernized aircraft carrier.
Its also been increasingly vocal about controlling shared waters in the region, something its neighbors have started to respond to.
Necessary to Taiwan’s plans to build its own submarine fleet is the cooperation of the U.S. and other western nations, as it lacks the latest technology required to build modern subs. That need presents a political problem as China is against any form of military co-operation with Taiwan, even technological transfers or weapons sales to the country it considers a rogue province.
“Our determination to build indigenous submarines is very firm. The navy is very actively pushing this matter,” said Major-General David Lo, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense spokesman.
Taiwan’s government supported Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Center (SOIC), is expected to put together a consortium to lead contract negotiations for the initial design phase of the submarine program, with experts saying this will allow Taiwan to develop its ship building capabilities by acquiring the needed intellectual property.
Meanwhile, following today’s annual grand parade in Beijing, which was attended by Russian President Putin, Chinese leaders downplayed the concerns of neighboring countries of Chinese military threats. They hinted at cuts to troop numbers in 2017 and other military reforms though these just amount to a shift in focus to high-tech, low manpower weapons.