A day after the President Ma Ying-jeou said that Taiwan needs diesel-electric submarines rather than nuclear-powered ones and has decided to build the type of craft it requires, the country's Ministry of National Defense reiterated that it has still not given up on the idea of buying submarines from the United States.
According to local media, Ma said Taiwan does not need nuclear-powered submarines as that type of craft is unsuitable for the country's surrounding waters, but it does need diesel-electric submarines and has decided to build them itself.
Cheng Cheng-yi, chairman of Hung Shen Propeller Co said Taiwan has the technology to build its own submarines and should rely mainly on domestic rather than overseas supply.
But defense ministry spokesperson Major General Luo Shou-he said submarines are on the priority list of weapons Taiwan needs because they have a strong deterrent value and can help protect the safety of the country's marine territories.
Taiwan is pursuing the expansion of its submarine fleet through two channels: continuing to seek arms sales from the United States and building submarines on its own, Luo said.
Taipei has brought up its request for submarines at the annual Taiwan-US defense industry conference each year and has never changed its thinking about purchasing arms from the US, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a visiting U.S. congressman reiterated that the United States remains
committed to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense.
Steve Russell (R-OK) made his point at the Taiwan-U.S.-Japan Trilateral
Security Dialogue in Taipei Tuesday, in response to concerns over the U.S. Congress' weaker support for Taiwan.
China's submarines can access the Pacific Ocean and that is "a critical change to the current balance between the U.S. and China," he said. Strengthening cooperation among Taiwan, China and the U.S. is "really important," he added.