Taiwan already has its “sea monster.” That is the translation that can be made of “Hai Kun”, the name in Mandarin given to the first submarine built on the island.
This Thursday, the Taiwanese authorities held a grand presentation at the shipyard in the southern city of Kaohsiung, including a ceremony led by President Tsai Ing-wen. The leader has hailed the homemade submersible as an important milestone amid Taipei’s rearmament in order to boost military deterrence against the threat from China.
“The submarine reflects the commitment to defend our country. It is also an important equipment for our naval forces in developing asymmetric warfare strategies,” Tsai explained. “In the past, many people thought that building an indigenous submarine would be an impossible task. But we have achieved it.”
Hai Kun, powered by diesel and electricity, is valued at $1.54 billion. It will be operational in a couple of years and will join Taiwan’s two other Dutch-made submarines that were first put into service in the 1980s.
From the autonomous island that Beijing considers a separatist province, they aspire to have a fleet of eight of these boats to make a possible invasion of the Chinese neighbor, which has more than 60 submarines, including nuclear-powered, more difficult.