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September 23, 2017

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Taiwan may build its own submarines

The fact is that the deal is being stalled.

Opinion is divided over whether the eight submarines should be built in Taiwan.

Just like at the time the project was aborted, many brass hats doubt Taiwan's shipbuilding capability. General Tang Yao-ming, the then-minister of national defense, testified at a Legislative Yuan committee meeting in 2004 nobody could guarantee the seaworthiness of locally built submarines.

"If sailors are killed in a test run, who is going to take responsibility?" questioned Tang, an air force general. Similar questions are being asked now.

But shipbuilders are confident they are up to the job.

"A research plan is under way to build submarine hulls up to the international standard," said Wang Keh-hsuan, vice general manager of the CSBC Corp., Taiwan.

Wang said his state-owned company formerly known as China Shipbuilding Corporation is fully equipped to build submarines with 2,000 to 3,000 deadweight tons.

"Of course, all weapons and communications systems will have to be purchased from abroad," Wang added. "We are all set to undertake the construction, if it is offered," he stressed.

Fears over the safety of locally-built submarines is legitimate, but that's the challenge Taiwan has to take if it wants to have submarines of its own.

Opponents should be reminded that Japan sacrificed hundreds of officers and men to finally succeed in building its own submarines and the Zero fighter, both the best in the world at the time of their debut prior to Pearl Harbor in 1941.

A number of newly built submarines submerged but never came up in their test runs. Many test pilots were killed when their new Zero fighters crash-landed.

Even if a locally-built submarine is more costly than one purchased from abroad, Taiwan has to build its own underwater fighting craft, because naval powers around the world refuse to sell them to Taiwan for fear they might offend the People's Republic.

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