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Taiwan sees role as arms supplier for West as it launches new warship

Taiwan sees role as arms supplier for West as it launches new warship

Navy officers march during the official ceremony for the new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes in Yilan, Taiwan on Dec 15, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Ann Wang)

SUAO, Taiwan: Taiwan may become a supplier of weapons to Western democracies, said President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday (Dec 15), praising the island's ramped up weapons-design ability as she launched an advanced, missile-laden warship and commissioned a new minelayer.

Tsai has made boosting the defence of Taiwan a priority in the face of a growing military challenge from Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring democratic Taiwan under its control.

While Taiwan's air force has benefited from big-ticket items such as new and upgraded F-16s, the navy is Tsai's next focus, with submarines in production and the Tuesday launch of the first of a fleet of highly manoeuvrable stealth corvettes.

The new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, a prototype of which is already in operation, has been dubbed by Taiwan's navy the "aircraft carrier killer" due to its complement of anti-ship missiles. It can also carry Sky Sword anti-aircraft missiles.

READ: China launches 'grey-zone' warfare to subdue Taiwan

Speaking in the eastern port city of Suao for the launch of the Ta Chiang, the first mass production ship of the Tuo Chiang-class, Tsai said the vessel and the new minelayer would deter attacks and showcased Taiwan's research and development ability.

"We have the determination and capability to complete the task of building our own ships, letting the world see our defence research and development energy," Tsai said.

"In the future, we may also become a supply source of related equipment and components in Western democracies, driving the upgrading of the defence industry," she said.

READ: Taiwan to 'protect its sovereignty' with new submarines amid China tensions: President Tsai

The United States is Taiwan's main foreign source of weapons. Most countries shy away from arming the island, wary of angering Beijing and loosing valuable commercial contracts with the world's second-largest economy.

Tsai, re-elected in a landslide in January on a vow to stand up to China, has championed the concept of "asymmetric warfare", focusing on high-tech, mobile weapons designed to make any Chinese attack as difficult as possible.

She has bolstered the domestic arms industry to try to make Taiwan as self-sufficient as possible.

Source: Reuters

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