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Taiwan navy gets two new warships as China tensions grow

AFP  |  Kaohsiung (Taiwan) 

Taiwanese vowed Thursday that the island would not "concede one step" in defending itself as she inaugurated two frigates bought from the aimed at boosting Taipei's naval capabilities against

Rival has upped military drills including a live fire exercise in the Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront the island's "independence forces".

still claims self-ruled as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been ruled separately since 1949 after a civil war.

has also been incensed by recent warming ties between and Taipei, including the US State Department's approval of a preliminary licence to sell to the island.

The two Perry-class guided missile frigates were officially commissioned in a ceremony at Zuoying base in southern city.

"We want to send a clear and firm message from to the international community that we will not concede one step in defending... and protecting our free and democratic way of life," Tsai said after inspecting the ships.

China's "military actions in the region not only attempt to weaken Taiwan's sovereignty but will also damage regional peace and stability," Tsai warned.

She vowed to continue enhancing the navy's capabilities as part of the military's goal to maintain what it calls "solid defence and multi-layered deterrence" to guard the island.

chief of staff had said previously the warships' anti-submarine capabilities are more advanced than the island's existing eight Cheng Kung-class frigates and could have "deterrent effects" against China's submarines.

The US de facto embassy in Taipei, the in Taiwan (AIT), said the sale would "improve Taiwan's capability in current and future defensive efforts" as well as stability in the region.

The ships will be deployed to patrol the Taiwan Strait, the narrow waterway that separates the island and China, according to the

has stepped up diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan since Tsai took office two years ago, as her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of "one China", unlike the government of her Beijing-friendly predecessor.

In September, irked when it announced plans to sell Taiwan USD 330 million in spare parts for several aircraft.

remains Taipei's most powerful unofficial ally and its main arms supplier despite switching diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

Built in the 1980s, the two frigates were originally named Taylor and Gary and were part of a USD 1.8 billion US arms deal to Taiwan announced in 2015 under the administration of US

They have been renamed and

According to Taiwan's navy, the warships have "high mobility, high sea resistance and low noise" and are fitted with the SQR-19 sonar system currently used by US

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 08 2018. 16:50 IST