Taiwan claims to have sent its submarine to the South China Sea (SCS) amidst rising tensions with China. The tiny island nation also says that its submarine participated in naval drills in the area.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence said in a report published on Tuesday that it sent an ageing Hai Lung submarine to participate in defence drills near its island of Taiping in the SCS which is claimed by China.
The Taiwanese report also said that the Coast Guard Administration regularly sends vessels to patrol near the islands.
Taiwan operates two old submarines built in the Netherlands in the 1980s, named the Hai Lung and the Hai Hu. Both are equipped with six, 21-inch torpedo tubes and can fire Harpoon missiles to destroy surface and underwater targets.
The Ministry of National Defence report did not disclose the timings or the activities of the Hai Lung near the Taiping island. It only said that in peacetime the submarine would protect sea lanes and territorial waters while during wartime it would lay mines and attack enemy targets.
Under pressure of invasion from China, Taiwan is bolstering its defences.
The island, which lies barely 180-km from China’s east coast is constructing its first indigenous submarine. It is also procuring various weapon systems from the US and has been receiving military training from American Special Forces since last year.
China has mounted military pressure on Taiwan by repeatedly sending its fighter jets into the island's air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Its maritime vessels also intrude into Taiwanese waters on a regular basis for mining and dredging out sand.
The communist country has militarised the SCS by creating artificial islands and putting up military installations on reefs. It has even intruded into the territorial waters of South-East Asian countries, heightening tensions in the region.