President says”Taiwan needs new submarines”

President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday that Taiwan badly needs a new generation of submarines to beef up its naval fleet.

“Our existing submarines are all very old and need
renewal,” Ma said while meeting with a United States congressional delegation
headed by Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. House
Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Ma noted that Royce paid a visit to a naval
base in southern Taiwan Sunday and boarded the Guppy-class submarine “Sea

“We acquired that warship more than 40 years ago,” the 62-year-old
president said. “I happened to be serving my mandatory military service in the
Navy at the time, so you can imagine how badly we need to renew our submarine

The congressional delegation headed by Royce visited the Tsoying
naval base Sunday for a briefing and boarded two mine hunters that the U.S.
delivered to Taiwan last year after overhauling them.

Military spokesman
Luo Shou-he said naval authorities took advantage of Royce’s visit to stress
Taiwan’s desire to acquire new submarines to strengthen its maritime

In April 2001, then-U.S. President George W. Bush announced the
sale of eight conventional submarines as part of Washington’s most comprehensive
arms package for the island since 1992.

Since then, however, there has
been little progress in finalizing the deal.

Taiwan now has two
U.S.-built Guppy-class submarines and two Dutch-built Zwaardvis-class
submarines, which were acquired in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, Ma told Royce
that Taiwan-U.S. relations were at a low ebb when he first took office in May
2008. At that time, he said, relations across the Taiwan Strait had also almost
come to a standstill.

“I worked proactively to improve the situation
immediately after assuming office,” Ma recalled.

In less than a month
following his inauguration, Ma said, institutionalized cross-strait talks were
resumed to pave the way for normal development of cross-strait

At the same time, Ma said, his administration has spared no
effort to restore mutual trust with the United States through a “low-key,
surprise-free” approach.

In October 2008, then-U.S. President George W.
Bush approved an arms sales package worth more than US$6 billion, Ma

Today, he said, Taipei-Washington ties are in their best shape in
more than three decades, and the Taiwan Strait is more stable and peaceful than
it has ever been since 1949, when the Republic of China government moved to

The U.S. delegation arrived in Taipei Saturday for a three-day
visit as part of a tour to East Asia.

Source – Focus Taiwan

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