The appointment of Chiu Kuo-cheng as the new Defense minister of Taiwan has come with some news for the country. Chiu has told the parliament that the naval deployments of the island have strengthened in the disputed area of South China Sea, and that the United States has agreed to export sensitive technology so as to equip the island’s new submarine fleet.
Just after the appointment of Chiu as the defence minister, President Tsai Ing-wen had opened her list of expectations from him. She had asked him to complete the next stage of military reforms, including the planning for “asymmetric warfare” and focusing on high-tech, mobile weapons so as to make any Chinese intrusion or attack as difficult as possible.
China and Taiwan have had stringent relations between them since long. Firstly, China claims democratic Taiwan to be under its authority, which the island denies. Secondly, the increased military activity of China in South China Sea is a reason of concern for the island.
In recent months, the military activity of China has increased near the island in quest of pressurizing Taipei to accept Beijing’s sovereignty. But Taiwan on the other hand is adamant and has vowed to defend itself.
Chiu on Wednesday told the parliament that Taiwan has increased personnel and ammunition stationed on its main island in the South China Sea- Itu Aba. Itu Aba, also known as the Taiping Island is the largest naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which is administered by the Republic of China (Taiwan). Chiu said that position at the Itu Aba island is being strengthened due to China’s “expansionism” in the region, although it was not currently considering a return to a permanent army garrison.
Chiu told the parliament, “They are capable of starting a war”, when a legislator asked whether China could attack Taiwan or not. He continued, “My goal is for us to be ready at all times.”
Chiu even informed the parliament that the United States has approved of the exports of all the sensitive equipment required for Taiwan’s first indigenous submarine fleet. The construction of these eight attack submarines has started during November 2020 and the first vessel is expected to be completed by 2024.
He even acknowledged the fact that though there has been change in presidentship in US, with Joe Biden as the new President, no change has been there is Taiwan’s arms purchases from the US- which has been island’s main source of weapons.
Taiwan is modernizing and strengthening its armed forces so as to combat the daily challenges faced from China in the waters and the airspace near the island.
He said, “If we match them one for one, it costs a lot.”
China has boosted up its activities in the disputed waters of South China Sea, which is a cause of envy and suspicion by the countries from all around the world. It has built man made islands and has installed air bases on some of them in the region. Other neighboring countries like the Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei have competing claims in the waterway.
China claims approximately 80% of the South China Sea to be under its authority. But last year, the United States and Australia had officially stated that China’s claims in the South China Sea are unlawful.