Taiwan launches shipbuilding program amid China threats
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan launched an amphibious transport ship Tuesday, the first of its new shipbuilding program launched as China escalated threats to use military force to annex the island it claims it was his territory.
President Tsai Ing-wen presided over the opening ceremony at a shipyard in the southern port city of Kaohsiung for the first time in a line of ships designed to defend against a Chinese invasion.
The ship is "designed and built in accordance with national defensive combat training requirements," said Tsai.
She described the start of the new line of 10,000-ton amphibious transport ships as an "important milestone for national shipbuilding in our country".
Taiwan has boosted its domestic military industries, including building ships and submarines, and is upgrading facilities in the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by China. Along with the main island of Taiwan, the government controls areas near China, including the Kinmen, Matsu, and Pescadores archipelagos, which require constant replenishment.
In a sample of its threats to use force on Taiwan if necessary, China sent 25 fighter jets into Taiwan's southern airspace on Monday, the Defense Ministry said. Naval exercises with the Liaoning aircraft carrier near Taiwan were also recently conducted.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced that the airline Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group have reentered the South China Sea on their second deployment this year.
China claims the South China Sea is almost complete and strongly opposes foreign naval activity in the resource-rich and heavily traversed waters, particularly the US practice of sailing naval vessels near Chinese-owned features, in what it calls "freedom of navigation operations " designated. ”
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