Golden Anniversary For Taiwan, Swazi Ties
President Tsai Ing-wen marked Taiwan’s 50 years of diplomatic ties with one of its oldest allies, Swaziland, during her visit to the African nation. In a speech, Tsai declared that the two sides were “sworn brothers” and would always look out for each other. Tsai arrived in Swaziland April 15 for a four-day visit, during which time she also helped celebrate King Mswati III’s 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence.
Celebrations to honor Taiwan-Swaziland diplomatic ties were held on April 18. During her speech, Tsai noted that Taiwan has supported multiple initiatives for economic development in what is one of the world’s poorest countries, while noting that Swaziland, a member of the United Nations, continues to support Taiwan’s efforts to gain entrance into UN-related organizations. Tsai also met with Taiwan’s Ambassador Thomas J.C. Chen and visited the many educational and agricultural programs Taiwan has undertaken in Swaziland. She returned to Taiwan on April 19 and gave a speech at the airport, where she said that the trip should be a model for future engagement with Africa.
Dominican Republic Switches Ties to China
On May 1, officials from the Dominican Republic and China signed a communique officially establishing diplomatic ties between the two nations. Signed by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, the communique declared: “The Government of the Dominican Republic recognizes that there is but one China in the world, that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.” This loss leaves Taiwan with only 19 diplomatic allies.
Unites States Okays Submarine Deal
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on April 8 that two U.S. defense contractors had been granted permission to market submarine technology to help Taiwan build its own submarines. MND spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi and Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin confirmed that the U.S. State Department has approved the marketing license required for the sale of submarine technology to Taiwan. The U.S. contractors that will be involved in the project have not been named.
Defense News reports that the approvals likely cover a submarine combat management system, or CMS, one example of the many critical technologies for submarine development that Taiwan lacks. Taiwan will also be looking for technological assistance for sonar systems, modern periscopes, and weapons systems. Taiwan gained approval from the U.S. State Department last year to acquire advanced torpedoes under the Foreign Military Sales program.
As part of an arms package approved during the administration of President George W. Bush in 2001, Taiwan hoped to acquire submarines from the United States or with U.S. assistance, but the deal fell through. The United States no longer makes diesel-electrical submarines and would not make nuclear vessels available to Taiwan, further complicating Taiwan’s efforts.
Taiwan has allocated US$15 billion for shipbuilding and force modernization, with the submarine project regarded as a core program. The first domestically built submarine is expected to be deployed in 10 years. The Taiwanese Navy reportedly is also planning to extend the operational life of its two Zwaardvis-class diesel-electric submarines purchased from the Netherlands in the 1980s.