Taiwan vows to press on with indigenous arms policy
Tsai says minesweepers ‘scandal’ an isolated case and she is confident the military can remedy the situation
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Friday to forge ahead with her administration’s policy of building military equipment at home despite an ongoing procurement scandal.
Speaking at a commissioning ceremony held at a military base in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, Tsai called the scandal involving minesweepers for the navy an “isolated case” that would “not change the course of bolstering the indigenous arms industry”.
Tsai said she was confident that the military would correct the wrong and learn a lesson from it, thus helping itself establish a better system and create a better environment for advancing the development of the indigenous military industry.
She added that as the commander-in-chief of the military forces, she wanted to take the opportunity to express her strong support for the military and for the policy of building military equipment at home.
The ceremony was held for 12 P-3C submarine-hunting and maritime surveillance aircraft acquired from the United States to replace ageing S-2T anti-submarine warfare aircraft, which were officially decommissioned on Friday.
The P-3C aircraft are part of a US$2.23 billion arms sale the US government approved in 2007.
The defence ministry has said that it is planning to add the aircraft, which have an operational range of 2,000 nautical miles, to regular patrols in the South China Sea.
Tsai is not the first Taiwanese president seeking to build military equipment at home. However, the scandal surrounding Ching Fu Shipbuilding has struck a blow to the policy.
Kaohsiung-based Ching Fu won a contract in October 2014 to build six minesweepers for the navy. The navy said it would decide no later than December 8 whether to terminate the contract with Ching Fu, which failed to meet a contract deadline due to its financial woes.