Taiwan sees the position of arms provider for the West in launching a brand new warship
© Reuters. Naval officers march in Yilan during the official ceremony for the new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes
By Ann Wang
SUAO, Taiwan (Reuters) – Taiwan could become an arms supplier to Western democracies, President Tsai Ing-wen said Tuesday, praising the island’s improved ability to design weapons as it launched an advanced, missile-laden warship and launched a new one in Order was given by mine layers.
Tsai has made it a priority to step up the defenses of the Chinese-claimed island in the face of a growing military challenge from Beijing, which has never relinquished the use of force to bring democratic Taiwan under its control.
While Taiwan’s air force has benefited from large items like new and improved F-16s, the Navy is Tsai’s next focus as submarines are in production and the first of a fleet of highly maneuverable stealth corvettes launches Tuesday.
The new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, the prototype of which is already in service, have been dubbed “aircraft carrier killers” by Taiwan’s Navy because of their numerous anti-ship missiles. It can also carry Sky Sword anti-aircraft missiles.
Tsai spoke in the eastern port city of Suao about the launch of the Ta Chiang, the first mass production ship of the Tuo Chiang class. He said the ship and the new mine-layer would deter attacks and demonstrate Taiwan’s research and development capability.
“We have the determination and ability to do the job of building our own ships and showing the world our energy for defense research and development,” said Tsai.
“In the future, we may also be a source of related equipment and components in western democracies, which will drive defense industry modernization,” she said.
The United States is Taiwan’s main foreign source of arms. Most countries shy away from arming the island because they don’t anger Beijing and lose valuable trade deals with the world’s second largest economy.
Tsai, who was re-elected in a landslide in January to hold his own against China, has advocated the concept of “asymmetric warfare” and has focused on high-tech mobile weapons designed to make any Chinese attack as difficult as possible .
It has strengthened the domestic defense industry to make Taiwan as self-sufficient as possible.
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