China Will Be Mad: Did North Korea Offer to Help Taiwan Build Submarines?

Charlie Gao

Charlie Gao

Security, Asia-Pacific

It was recently reported in various Taiwanese media outlets that North Korea and Taiwan discussed the transfer of North Korean submarine technology to Taiwan.

China Will Be Mad: Did North Korea Offer to Help Taiwan Build Submarines?

Submarines are a critical asset for Taiwan’s Navy, the Republic of China Navy (ROCN). They provide critical intelligence gathering, patrol, and deterrence capabilities in the Taiwan Strait. However, they are few in number. The ROCN only operates four submarines, only two of which are used operationally.

Pressure by the People’s Republic of China on would-be exporters has prevented Taiwan from buying full submarines abroad, so Taiwan has started its own indigenous submarine program. This program has attracted the usual European and American partnerships, but some other nations appear to have thrown their hat into the ring.

Surprisingly, North Korea is one of these nations. It was recently reported in various Taiwanese media outlets that North Korea and Taiwan discussed the transfer of North Korean submarine technology to Taiwan. According to one account, the attempted transfer was facilitated by the North Korean Central Military Commission. The commission asked senior figures in North Korea if export was acceptable. Leadership concluded that Taiwan was not actively hostile towards North Korea and relations were cordial enough, so the export was approved.

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