Taiwan adds new amphibious warfare ship amid growing tension with China
Taipei: Taiwan’s navy has taken delivery of a new, domestically made amphibious warfare ship that can be used to land troops and bolster supply lines to vulnerable islands, part of a push by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen to achieve defence self-sufficiency.
The 10,600-tonne Yu Shan, named after Taiwan’s tallest mountain, is the latest development in Tsai’s ambitious programme to modernise the independent island’s armed forces as pressure from China’s military mounts, Al Jazeera reported.
“When it comes to China’s military threats, only by strengthening our self-defence capabilities can there be true peace,” Tsai said at a ceremony on Friday to mark the delivery of the ship in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.
She said the Yu Shan was a testament to Taiwan’s efforts to boost production of its own warships and ensure autonomy in national defence as a means to “defend the country”, Al Jazeera reported.
Built by state-backed CSBC Corp Taiwan, the ship is armed with a forward cannon, for use against air and surface targets, anti-aircraft missiles, as well as rapid-fire Phalanx close-in anti-aircraft and anti-missile guns.
CSBC Chairman Cheng Wen-lung said as well as being an amphibious warfare vessel, with space for landing craft and helicopters, the ship will assume the “main transport role” for the South China Sea and offshore Taiwanese islands that lie close to the Chinese coast, the report said.
The islands have been long considered easy targets for China in the event of war.
Although Taiwan’s air force has benefitted from big-ticket items such as new and upgraded F-16 fighter jets, the navy is another of Tsai’s focuses, with submarines in production and a launch in 2020 of the first of a fleet of highly manoeuvrable stealth corvette ships.
China carried out more than a week of live-fire drills near Taiwan last month to show its anger at a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Chinese military activity has continued, though, at a much-reduced tempo.
(With UNI inputs)