President reaffirms self-reliant national defense for Taiwan
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, June 4 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reaffirmed her administration's determination to push for a self-reliant national defense force when she boarded a domestically built warship off Yilan in eastern Taiwan Saturday.
Following a May 29 inspection tour of air bases in Hualien, eastern Taiwan -- the first time in her capacity as commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces -- she visited a naval base in Suao, Yilan and boarded the Tuo Jiang (沱江), Taiwan's first locally developed stealth missile corvette that was commissioned in March 2015.
She said the nation will continue to promote the policy of building its own vessels.
"In addition to enhancing naval combat capacity, it will also help the development of the shipbuilding and machinery sectors, as well as system integration," she said.
The government's approach will be to make "demands for national defense the driving force of industrial upgrade and transformation," Tsai said.
The government is bound to encounter numerous challenges in the pursuit of a self-reliant national defense force, however, she admitted.
"The path is not an easy one, but there is no return," she told naval officers and cadets aboard the Tuo Jiang.
She said Taiwan has used superb technology in the building of the Tuo Jiang and "more importantly, we have the determination to succeed."
Tsai, accompanied by Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬), Yen De-fa (嚴德發), Taiwan's chief of the general staff, National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釧燮), said that this was her first time to board the Tuo Jiang, and when the vessel sailed out of Suao, she said she "was deeply touched" when she saw the powerful naval vessel and beautiful Yilan seashore.
Tsai also said that hoisting the commander-in-chief flag on the ship was an honor and responsibility.
"I am privileged to be able to safeguard the homeland and marine lifeline with all of you in the Navy," she said.
She also said the Tuo Jiang is a symbol of David fighting Goliath.
In one of the major cross-Taiwan Strait sea wars in the Taiwan Strait, which took place Sept. 2, 1958, a naval vessel named the Tuo Jiang was badly shelled by Chinese ships, and 11 out of the 81-member crew were killed, including medical officer Chen Ke-jung, (陳科榮), who was injured himself but continued to tend to the wounded and later died of massive loss of blood.
Tsai also said Taiwan is surrounded by sea, which she described as Taiwan's gateway to the world, and she encouraged everyone to learn about their huge responsibility to protect the country's sea lanes.
The Tuo Jiang, with the president and her entourage aboard, made a short cruise lasting 25 minutes.
Tsai later inspected an Army base and had lunch with the personnel of an infantry brigade.
She noted that the base had been newly painted, but said what is more important is whether the quality of equipment is good enough.
"Just painting and mowing the lawn (in anticipation of an inspection) will not make the military better," she said, adding that the new government will continue to push for national defense reforms.
A good combat force needs a good system, high efficiency and good morale as prerequisites, she said.
Tsai has inspected the air force, army and navy since taking office May 20 in a show of balanced attention to the three forces.
The boarding of the Tuo Jiang was also a chance to reaffirm her resolve of building a self-reliant force.
(By Lu Hsin-hui and Lilian Wu)
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