Taiwan plans to spend $1.2 billion on building six minehunters as part of efforts to negate China’s ability to blockade the island in a future conflict, a legislator said Monday.
The minehunters will be built between 2013 and 2025, according to Lin Yu-fang, a legislator of the ruling Kuomintang party who sits on parliament’s defence committee. He was citing the defence ministry’s draft 2013 budget.
“Once the project is completed, the navy’s anti-blockade capabilities will be enhanced significantly,” he said in a statement, adding that the budget, scheduled to total Tw$35.9 billion, was pending parliament’s final approval.
Last month Taiwan received two Osprey class minehunters, the second largest vessel of its kind in the world, from the United States, the island’s leading arms supplier despite a lack of diplomatic ties since 1979.
Ties between Taiwan and giant neighbour China have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang came to power in 2008 on a platform of beefing up trade and tourism links with the mainland.
But Beijing still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has governed itself since their split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
China has repeatedly threatened to use military force against Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced weapons.
A blockade is one of the ways in which China is considered likely to exert military pressure on Taiwan, as a full-scale D-day style invasion might be far too costly for the mainland military.