Taiwan Unveils First Domestically Produced Submarine, Marking a New Defence Era.
Picture: Taiwan’s first domestically made submarine. Photo: Presidential Office.
In a landmark move towards bolstering national defence and showcasing manufacturing prowess, Taiwan has launched its first domestically-produced submarine, named the “Hai Kun.” The unveiling of the diesel-electric “Narwhal” Hai Kun Class submarine took place on 28 September, a significant step that amplifies Taiwan’s naval capacities.
Key Features and Specifications
The state-of-the-art submarine is equipped with potent MK-48 Mod6 AT torpedoes and UGM-84L Harpoon anti-ship missiles, marking it as a formidable asset to Taiwan’s maritime arsenal.
High-Level Attendance at the Launch
The ceremony held in Kaohsiung saw the presence of several prominent figures. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen led the event, flanked by Taiwan Shipbuilding Company chairman Zheng Wenlong and Navy Commander Tang Hua. During the event, President Tsai emphasized the critical role that such combat forces play in guarding Taiwan’s maritime territories.
Presidential Statements on Defence and Economic Growth
President Tsai stated, “Today will be etched in history. Crafting submarines domestically isn’t merely an ambition. It’s a tangible step towards staunchly defending our nation.”
Highlighting the submarine’s strategic importance, she elaborated, “Submarines are vital for the Navy of the Republic of China, enabling asymmetric combat capabilities. While we source defence equipment from abroad, it’s imperative we also champion national defence self-reliance. This ensures our defence mechanisms are always evolving and robust.”
Tsai further emphasized her administration’s commitment to domestic production of defence equipment, remarking that such initiatives not only bolster national security but also fuel industrial growth, thereby strengthening the nation’s economic fabric.
“We’ve seen technological advancements and R&D growth in related industries through our national shipbuilding plans over recent years,” she said. “A holistic defence industry supply chain is in formation, setting the trajectory for Taiwan’s shipbuilding sector to reach new heights.”
Projecting the future significance of the submarine, President Tsai envisaged the “Hai Kun” embodying Taiwan’s resilient spirit, silently safeguarding its shores, upholding its democratic values, and forging ahead amidst challenges.
Historical Context and Future Plans
The seeds for this submarine project were sown back in 2016 with the establishment of a submarine development centre. This was followed by a collaboration pact with the Ministry of National Defence in 2017. As part of a multi-billion-dollar initiative, Taiwan envisions adding eight more such vessels, strengthening its naval defence considerably.
China’s Reaction to the Announcement
The People’s Republic of China, always vocal about its stance on Taiwan, reacted promptly. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated during a press conference on 28 September that Taiwan remains an inseparable part of China.
Asserting China’s long-standing position, she declared, “The reunification of both sides of the Taiwan Strait is inevitable.” She also criticized the DPP authorities for their persistent stance on Taiwan’s independence and accused them of fostering discord across the Taiwan Strait, thereby risking the prevailing peace and stability.