KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan ordered new navy minelayers on Friday to bolster its defenses against giant rival China.
President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a commissioning ceremony for the Navy’s First and Second Mining Operations Squadrons, which will operate vessels capable of automatically planting large numbers of small but powerful mines at high speed without the need for divers.
These technologies are part of a strategy to deter any possible invasion from China, with its huge military and vast superiority in numbers of warplanes, ships and other weapons.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has stepped up its threat to bring it under its control by force if necessary with frequent military exercises and by sending fighter jets and other aircraft to fly near the island.
The initial order for four ships made by Lungteh Shipbuilding is part of a drive by Tsai to revitalize the domestic arms industry and reduce Taiwan’s dependence on the main US ally. United for defensive weapons. Lungteh also produces missile corvettes, patrol boats and other craft for the Taiwanese armed forces and police, as well as those for civilian use.
The automatic mine laying system was developed by the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan.
The ships give the navy “even stronger power to protect our waters,” Tsai said at the ceremony. Their commissioning “demonstrated the fruits of the indigenous defense industry and showed the world our determination to defend our country”, she said.
Lieutenant Hsu Shu-wei of the second mining operations squadron said the purpose of the new technology was simply to “enhance our asymmetric warfare power”.
“Our goal is to deter the enemy from entering our island,” Hsu said.