TAIWAN's president launched the island's first domestically made submarine for testing Thursday, September 28, 2023 at a port in Kaohsiung.
The submarine, if successful in its tests, will be a major breakthrough for Taiwan in shipbuilding and design.
“In the past, a domestic made submarine was considered impossible, but today a submarine designed and built by our countrymen is in front of you,” said President Tsai Ing-wen at the launch ceremony. “It is the concrete realization of our resolution to protect" Taiwan.
The process was “torturous,” said Cheng Wen-lon, head of Taiwan's CSBC Corporation, which led the constructions of the submarine. But its completion marks an important milestone in Taiwan's strategy of adopting asymmetric warfare.
“Although we have worked quietly the past several years, it doesn't mean the process was very smooth," he said at the ceremony held in CSBC's shipyard.
After years of construction and design, the prototype will begin a test in the harbor before being tested in the ocean.
The submarine, named Hai Kun, or literally “Sea Kun,” is named for a type of fish found in Chinese literature called Kun, of legendary proportions. It took seven years of design and construction.
It will only be handed over to the military after passing both its harbor and ocean-faring tests. Taiwan plans to build another submarine if successful, with both to be deployed by 2027, according to the semi-official Central News Agency.
Taiwan began the expensive and time-consuming task of building its own submarines after Beijing successfully prevented it from purchasing such craft from abroad through the use of economic and diplomatic threats.
In recent years, China has stepped up its military exercises aimed at the island, sending fighter jets and navy vessels to patrol and hold drills in the waters and skies near Taiwan.
In attendance at the ceremony, was the head of the U.S.'s de facto embassy Sandra Oudkirk, as well as the Japanese and Korean trade delegations based in Taiwan.(AP)