US Torpedo Sales to Taiwan Island ‘Useless’ Against Chinese Mainland Military: Expert
(Source: Global Times; published May 21, 2020)
The US latest plan to sell arms to the island of Taiwan of 18 torpedoes is overpriced and cannot make any difference in a potential military conflict between the island and the Chinese mainland, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan secessionists on the day of regional leader Tsai Ing-wen's inaugural speech, mainland military experts said on Thursday.

The Chinese side is firmly opposed to the US plan to sell arms to Taiwan and has lodged stern representations with the US side, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Thursday.

Zhao urged the US to abide by the one-China principle, and the three China-US joint communiqués, cancel the plan of arms sale to Taiwan and end its military links with the island before it causes more harm to China-US ties and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

Zhao and the experts' statements came after the US State Department approved the sale of 18 MK-48 Mod6 Advanced Technology Heavy Weight Torpedoes and related equipment for an estimated $180 million to the island of Taiwan, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a Wednesday statement by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

It aims to serve US national, economic and security interests by supporting Taiwan's "continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability," the report cited the agency as saying.

This type of torpedo is one of the most advanced heavyweight torpedoes in the world. It will likely be used on the Taiwan military's conventional submarines, and will attack hostile submarines or surface vessels, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Thursday.

While the powerful US-made torpedoes could become a threat to warships of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Taiwan military's submarines are outdated and can easily be spotted and destroyed by the PLA, leaving them with no chance to use the torpedoes, Wei said, noting the arms sales will not make a difference to the military strength across the Straits.

According to publicly available information, the cost of each MK-48 is $3.5 million. However in the latest sale, each torpedo was priced at $10 million.

Even taking the cost of related equipment into account, this is a far higher price, showing that Taiwan is paying protection money to the US, and the US arms company will make a huge amount of unreasonable profit from this potential deal, analysts said.

The announcement of the sale came on the same day as the inaugural speech of Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai said in her speech that the island is seeking to bolster asymmetrical capabilities in "national defense reforms" to resist the will to reunite with the mainland.

Wei said the announcement of the US arms sale at this time is meant to lend support to Taiwan secessionists, and the US is also hoping to have the island pin down the Chinese mainland's military capability, while bringing profits to American arms dealers.

This type of torpedo is a very aggressive weapon, and the US is wrongly encouraging Taiwan to use offensive weapons and attack the PLA, Wei said.

This is not the first time the US has sold MK-48 torpedoes to Taiwan. In 2017, an arms deal included 46 such torpedoes worth $250 million, reports said.

In July 2019, the US approved a possible $2.2 billion arms sale to the island of Taiwan, which included 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles.

The Chinese mainland reacted to this US arms sale with large-scale military drills on the southeast coast near the island of Taiwan.

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