TAIPEI — Taiwan plans to buy two warships from the U.S. as part of an effort to modernize its naval force amid a perceived military threat from China, Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu said Nov. 5.
The two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, now serving in the U.S. Navy, will be delivered to Taiwan by 2015, Kao said while answering questions in parliament.
“The Defence Ministry has decided to take the two Perry-class frigates. It is a good bargain,” Kao added, according to a statement released by Lin Yu-fang, the legislator who raised the question.
The two warships, estimated to cost a total of about 7 billion Taiwanese dollars ($240 million), will replace two of eight aging Knox-class frigates that Taiwan acquired in the early 1990s, Kao said.
Beijing put its first aircraft carrier into service in September amid escalating tensions over Tokyo-controlled islands in the East China Sea, which Taiwan also claims.
Ties between Taiwan and its former rival China have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became president in 2008 on a platform of ramping up trade and tourism links. Ma was re-elected in January for a second four-year term. Despite the warmer relations, China still claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which has governed itself since 1949, and has vowed to get it back — by force if necessary — even though the island has ruled itself for more than 60 years.