Taiwan unveiled the island’s first home-built submarine on Thursday, a major breakthrough in its defense capabilities as tensions with China continue to rise.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen unveiled the submarine, named Hai Kun after a fish in Chinese mythology called the kun, saying “history will forever remember this day.”
“In the past, a domestic submarine was considered impossible, but today a submarine designed and built by our countrymen is in front of you,” he said at the launch ceremony.
“The construction of a submarine is the concrete implementation of our resolution to protect our country,” Tsai continued. “Submarines are an important piece of equipment for Taiwan’s navy to develop strategic and tactical asymmetric combat power.”
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CSBC Corp. of Taiwan led the construction of the submarine, which underwent seven years of design and construction.
The US is pushing Taiwan to develop asymmetric warfare strategies by investing in smaller and lighter weapons, such as the reduced-size submarine.
The submarine will be launched at a port in Kaohsiung, where it will begin trials before heading out into the ocean. If all tests are successful, the submarine will be handed over to the island’s military.
China’s defense ministry responded Thursday to the submarine’s revelations, saying Taiwan was “walking the path of its own destruction.”
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“No matter how many weapons the Democratic Progressive Party buys, it will not hinder the greater trend of reunification with the motherland,” said Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense.
Beijing’s recent military exercises near Tawain have escalated tensions between the two governments.
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Last week, China flew 103 warplanes near and over the island in a 24-hour period in what the island’s defense ministry called a recent new high. A day later, an additional 55 PLA aircraft were spotted near the island by the ROC Armed Forces of Taiwan.
Lawrence Richard of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.