Taiwan submarine project chief quits, ministry says plans to proceed

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 9:57 PM

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s homegrown submarine programme will remain on track, the defence minister said on Wednesday, after the head of the programme resigned due to what he said were unfair attacks against him and the military.

Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, has made the submarine programme a key part of an ambitious project to modernise its armed forces as Beijing stages almost daily military exercises to assert sovereignty claims Taipei rejects.

Taiwan unveiled the first of eight new submarines in late September, though it won’t enter service until next year. The programme has drawn on expertise and technology from several countries – a breakthrough for diplomatically isolated Taiwan.

In a statement late on Tuesday, Huang Shu-kuang said he had resigned as head of the submarine project as he and the programme had been subjected to unfair attacks from people he did not name.

Huang told Reuters that the submarine task force, which includes the navy and shipbuilder CSBC Corp, will continue to operate despite his departure.

“It’s impossible that the team will be dismissed due to one man’s departure,” he said.

Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters on Wednesday that Huang was a “conscientious” person but added: “The members of the task force are all on active duty and can work for a long time. It will not change due to a single personnel change.”

Huang has previously described the submarines as a “strategic deterrent” that can also help maintain the island’s “lifeline” to the Pacific by keeping ports along Taiwan’s eastern coast open.

Taiwan hopes to deploy at least two such domestically developed submarines by 2027, and possibly equip later models with submarine-launched anti-ship missiles.

($1 = 32.4840 Taiwan dollars)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; editing by Miral Fahmy)