Taiwan navy adds two new warships as China tensions grow

President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Nov. 8 that Taiwan would not “concede one step” in defending itself as she inaugurated two frigates bought from the US aimed at boosting the island’s naval capabilities against China threats. (File/AFP/Chris Stowers)
Updated 08 November 2018

Taiwan navy adds two new warships as China tensions grow

  • Beijing still claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification
  • China has also been incensed by recent warming ties between Washington and Taipei

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Thursday that the island would not “concede one step” in defending itself as she inaugurated two frigates bought from the United States aimed at boosting Taipei’s naval capabilities against China.
Rival China has upped military drills including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront the island’s “independence forces.”
Beijing still claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been ruled separately since 1949 after a civil war.
China has also been incensed by recent warming ties between Washington and Taipei, including the US State Department’s approval of a preliminary license to sell submarine technology to the island.
The two Perry-class guided missile frigates were officially commissioned in a ceremony at Zuoying base in southern Kaohsiung city.
“We want to send a clear and firm message from Taiwanese people to the international community that we will not concede one step in defending... Taiwan and protecting our free and democratic way of life,” Tsai said after inspecting the ships.
China’s “military actions in the region not only attempt to weaken Taiwan’s sovereignty but will also damage regional peace and stability,” Tsai warned Thursday.
She vowed to continue enhancing the navy’s capabilities as part of the military’s goal to maintain what it calls “solid defense and multi-layered deterrence” to guard the island.
Navy chief of staff Vice Admiral Lee Chung-hsiao had said previously the warships’ anti-submarine capabilities are more advanced than the island’s existing eight Cheng Kung-class frigates and could have “deterrent effects” against China’s submarines.
The ships will be deployed to patrol the Taiwan Strait, the narrow waterway that separates the island and China, according to the navy.
Beijing has stepped up diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan since Tsai took office two years ago, as her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China,” unlike the government of her Beijing-friendly predecessor.
In September, Washington irked Beijing when it announced plans to sell Taiwan $330 million in spare parts for several aircraft.
Washington remains Taipei’s most powerful unofficial ally and its main arms supplier despite switching diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.
Built in the 1980s, the two frigates were originally named USS Taylor and USS Gary and were part of a $1.8 billion US arms deal to Taiwan announced in 2015 under the administration of US president Barack Obama.
They have been renamed Ming Chuan and Feng Chia.
According to Taiwan’s navy, the warships have “high mobility, high sea resistance and low noise” and are fitted with the SQR-19 sonar system currently used by US navy.


Macron slams Turkey’s ‘bellicose’ talk on Karabakh conflict

Updated 30 September 2020

Macron slams Turkey’s ‘bellicose’ talk on Karabakh conflict

  • Macron condemned Turkey’s statements backing Azerbaijan in its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Karabakh

RIGA: French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned what he called Turkey’s “reckless and dangerous” statements backing Azerbaijan it its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.
Ankara said on Tuesday it was “fully ready” to help Azerbaijan recover Nagorny Karabakh, as armed conflict escalated with neighboring Armenia over the region.
“I have noted Turkey’s political statements which I think are reckless and dangerous,” Macron told reporters in Latvia’s capital Riga during a visit to the Baltic EU state.
“France remains extremely concerned about the bellicose comments that Turkey made in the last hours, which essentially remove any inhibitions from Azerbaijan in what would be a reconquest of northern Karabakh. That we will not accept,” he added.
He also appeared to voice support for Yerevan: “I say to Armenia and to the Armenians, France will play its role.”
But Macron also said it was too soon to speak of a regional conflict.
He said he would discuss the tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening and US President Donald Trump on Thursday before reporting on the situation to the European Council of EU leaders.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Karabakh and have blamed each other for sparking fierce clashes that erupted on Sunday and have since caused nearly 100 confirmed deaths.
The two sides have so far defied calls for a cease-fire.
Ankara has backed Azerbaijan in the conflict and on Tuesday the Armenian defense ministry said a Turkish F-16 flying in support of Baku’s forces had downed an Armenian SU-25 warplane. Ankara fiercely denied the claim.
Direct Turkish military action against Armenia would mark a major escalation after three days of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over Karabakh.
And the UN Security Council called on both sides for an immediate end to the fighting.
Viewing Azerbaijan as its close ally and Armenia as its historic foe, Russia also called on Turkey to stop proclaiming support for Azerbaijan and to work toward a diplomatic solution to the escalation, the deadliest since 2016.
The European Union warned Monday regional powers not to interfere in fighting in Nagorny Karabakh, and condemned a “serious escalation” that threatens regional stability.