South China Sea: US spends big on nuclear subs as fears grow of Taiwan invasion by Beijing

China blamed for Taiwan fishing industry decline by worker

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It comes as a senior US naval commander warned that China could seek to enforce reunification within the next six years, remarks that were angrily denied by Beijing. The People’s Republic regards the island state as part of its sovereign territory and has consistently warned Taipei that any attempt to declare independence would lead to military action. Taiwan is separated from mainland China by a stretch of sea, 100 miles wide and which has a depth of about 230ft, deep enough for submarines to patrol.

To invade the island, China would need to secure control of both the air and sea.

The US and its allies hope that by building enough new submarines, they will be able to prevent the Chinese military from controlling the seas.

As part of its new defensive strategy, the US is investing a massive $22 billion into the construction of a fifth-tranche of its Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Australia is adding 12 more to the six it already has in service, while Japan has a new class of attack submarine in production.

South Korea has also embarked on a three-phase submarine-building programme.

For its part, Taiwan has committed to building eight new submarines to augment the four it currently possesses at a cost of $16 billion.

The first of its new diesel-electric vessels should be operational by 2025.

Andrew Krepinevich, a China expert and former senior Pentagon official, told The Times: “The PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] believes that in order to conduct a successful offensive campaign along the first island chain [in the South and East China seas], especially against Taiwan, it needs to have air and sea control.”

He added: “Submarines could play an important role in denying the PLA the sea control it believes it needs.”

Last week, China’s top diplomat reiterated Beijing’s position on Taiwan and warned the US from supporting any independence bid by Taipei.

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At a press conference last Sunday, Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said: “First, there is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”

Mr Wang went on to say that reunification was inevitable and warned the Biden administration not to cross a red line in its support of the island’s government.

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