US approves licence for Taiwan submarine plan

April 8, 2018
Taiwan currently operates a fleet of four submarines but only two of them can be deployed in the event of war

Washington has agreed to allow US defence contractors help Taiwan construct its own submarines, Taipei said, welcoming the breakthrough in long-standing ambitions to build up its fleet to counter the threat from China.

Taiwan last year launched a plan to manufacture its own submarines amid deteriorating relations with China after its hopes of buying them from the US came to nothing.

The US State Department has approved granting the licence necessary to sell Taiwan the technology needed for its project.

The approval was a "breakthrough," Taiwan defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said Sunday.

"It is part of a process. We'll take it step by step," he told AFP, declining to provide further details.

The agreement is likely to anger Beijing, which regards the island as part of its territory even though the two sides have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Washington's approval comes after President Donald Trump last month signed new rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan.

China has protested at the move, saying the US should stop official exchanges with Taiwan to avoid "damaging Sino-US relations".

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 but maintains trade relations with the island and is its main arms supplier.

Since coming to power in May 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen has pushed for Taiwan to develop and build more of its weapons domestically.

Her office expressed thanks to Washington for the licence approval.

"The US government's decision will not only help Taiwan in raising its defence capabilities, it will also greatly benefit security and stability in the region," it said in a statement Saturday.

Taipei has long struggled to procure submarines from the US.

In April 2001 then-president George W. Bush approved the sale of eight conventional submarines but there had been no progress on the deal, prompting Taipei's decision to build its own.

The United States has not built conventional submarines for more than 40 years and Germany and Spain reportedly declined to offer their designs for fear of offending China.

Taiwan's navy currently operates a fleet of four submarines, bought from abroad but only two of them can be deployed in the event of war.

The other two were built by the United States in the 1940s and are only used in training as they are too old for combat.

The first domestically-built submarine is expected to be deployed within 10 years.

Explore further: Taiwan asks Google to blur images of South China Sea island

Related Stories

Taiwan holds computer war games against China attack

May 19, 2014

Taiwan Monday launched computerised war games featuring its newly acquired AH-64 Apache helicopters helping counter a simulated attack by a Chinese aircraft carrier group, officials and media said.

Taiwan investigates navy ship's missing laptop

June 11, 2012

(AP) — Taiwan's military said Monday it is investigating how a laptop went missing from a guided-missile ship, with opposition lawmakers pointing the finger at Chinese spies.

Recommended for you

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

April 25, 2018

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a customized, low-cost 3D printer to print electronics on a real hand for the first time. The technology could be used by soldiers on the battlefield ...

Balancing nuclear and renewable energy

April 25, 2018

Nuclear power plants typically run either at full capacity or not at all. Yet the plants have the technical ability to adjust to the changing demand for power and thus better accommodate sources of renewable energy such as ...

Electrode shape improves neurostimulation for small targets

April 24, 2018

A cross-like shape helps the electrodes of implantable neurostimulation devices to deliver more charge to specific areas of the nervous system, possibly prolonging device life span, says research published in March in Scientific ...

China auto show highlights industry's electric ambitions

April 22, 2018

The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China's ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry's multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.