Taiwan may build its own submarines: Official

Patience is wearing thin after a US offer to sell the island eight submarines has been stalled for a decade.

Taipei: Taiwan may build its own submarines,
a top military officer said Thursday, in a sign that patience is
wearing thin after a US offer to sell the island eight
submarines has been stalled for a decade.

Chao Shih-chang, a deputy defence minister, told
parliament the ministry has continued pushing for the sale
since the United States promised eight conventional submarines
in 2001.

But while waiting for the US to follow through on the
deal, the ministry has also been evaluating calls for the
construction of the submarines by the island`s leading
shipyard CSBC Corporation, Taiwan.

"If it can reach the necessary technological level and
obtain support from abroad, the defence ministry would
certainly be pleased to see CSBC Corporation, Taiwan build the
subs," Chao said.

In April 2001, then US president George W Bush approved
the sale of eight conventional submarines as part of
Washington`s most comprehensive arms package to the island
since 1992.

Since then, however, there has been little progress as
the United States has not built conventional submarines for
more than 40 years and Germany and Spain had reportedly
declined to offer their designs for fear of offending China.

The Taiwanese navy currently operates a fleet of four
submarines, but only two of them, Dutch-built, could be
deployed in the event of war. The other two were built by the
United States in the 1940s.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have eased markedly
since President Ma Ying-jeou came to power on a platform of
beefing up trade links and allowing more Chinese tourists to
visit. Ma was re-elected in January.

But Taiwan, which has governed itself since 1949, still
sees a need to modernise its armed forces because China
regards the island as part of its territory awaiting
reunification, by force if necessary.


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