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Defense minister mum on specifics regarding Chinese sub sighting

06/18/2024 09:22 PM
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Defense Minister Wellington Koo. CNA photo June 18, 2024
Defense Minister Wellington Koo. CNA photo June 18, 2024

Taipei, June 18 (CNA) Defense Minister Wellington Koo (顧立雄) confirmed on Tuesday that a Chinese submarine had surfaced in the early hours of the morning in the Taiwan Strait, but declined to comment on the details or the likely intent behind the move.

The Ministry of National Defense, using its intelligence and reconnaissance systems, was aware of the situation but deemed it inappropriate to release details regarding China's maneuver, Koo said at the Legislature when asked by reporters about the matter, without elaborating.

According to media reports, the submarine was spotted surfacing by some fishers catching squid. A Chinese military vessel later arrived at the scene, and the two then sailed toward China.

The submarine, a nuclear-powered Type 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarine, surfaced in waters near the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands, according to Taiwan's military personnel.

Former Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy Captain Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩) said that based on the coordinates given by the fishermen, the sub was spotted in China's territorial waters at 24.7 nautical miles west of the Taiwan Strait median line.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), noted that the submarine likely did not pose a substantial threat to Taiwan due to the location it was operating in.

The sub, he said, could have surfaced due to safety concerns relating to unexpected changes in underwater terrain, citing the shallow waters in the Taiwan Strait, which are only 60 meters deep on average.

In addition, China may have wanted to flex its military muscles by "showing the flag," he said.

Notably, Su said, the location at which the sub surfaced was almost identical to a similar incident in July 2023 involving a sighting of a Chinese Type-039 diesel-electric submarine.

This suggests there could be a Chinese submarine route below the location, he added.

Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌), another INDSR member, said the sub might have encountered a mechanical fault, hence the need for surfacing.

(By Lin Ching-yin, Sean Lin, and Matt Yu)

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