On November 5th, Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa claimed that the country “will consider” hosting US warships if Washington were to ask to use the largest Spratly Islands in the South China Sea for security purposes.
Yen De-Fa was answering hypothetical questions of a member of the opposition, Johnny Chiang in the Legislative Yuan. According to the Defense Minister, US warships could also possibly be allowed to dock at Taiping island, which is under Taipei’s control for humanitarian operations.
Yen told Chiang that despite the island being for humanitarian purposes, the Taiwan government would consider using it for regional security if that suited the country’s interests.
“If it is based on security concerns that would affect the region, we will consider that,” Yen said. “This must also be in line with our national interests.”
According to Chiang, the regular presence of US aircraft carriers in the South China Sea was aimed at checking the military expansion of Beijing. He also claimed that the US might eventually make a port call at Taiping island in addition to Singapore and the Philippines.
On November 8th, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen also announced that he commissioned two US-made submarine hunter frigates. The two former US Perry-class guided missile frigates are aimed at boosting the island’s anti-submarine defense.
The PFG-1112 Ming Chuan and PFG-1115 Feng Chia are equipped with the American-made SQR-19 sonar system, giving them a far superior anti-submarine performance than the navy’s existing eight Chengkung-class frigates built by Taiwan, according to naval officers cited by the South China Morning Post.
The frigates are also equipped with the MK13 guided missile launch system, designed to fire RGM-84 Harpoon Block II missiles as an anti-ship defense.
“Through the commission of Ming Chuan and Feng Chia, we want to send a clear message to the world … that we are not only devoted to strengthening our armaments but are determined to safeguard the Republic of China in Taiwan as well as our free and democratic way of life,” Tsai said during a commissioning ceremony at the naval port of Zuoying in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.
“We will not retreat an inch,” she said, referring to alleged increased military intimidation from China.
The US in addition to constantly provoking China in the South China Sea is also pressuring Beijing in regard to Taiwan.
On September 25th, the US approved a $330 million arms sale to Taiwan. The proposed deal covers parts for Taiwan’s F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defense Fighter and other aircraft systems.
China immediately reacted calling for the US to halt all weapons sales to Taiwan. Beijing claimed that the deal damaged Chinese sovereignty and its security interests.
“China urges the US to . . . immediately withdraw the arms sales plan and stop military to military relations between the United States and Taiwan so as to avoid further damage to Chinese-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
The sale would contribute to US national security by boosting Taiwan’s defensive capability, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.
It added that Taiwan “continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region.”
The constant US pressure on China, including provocations in the South China Sea, Taiwan, military drills with Japan and the trade war is so far succeeding one thing – pushing China into closer relations with Russia.