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Taiwan, Submarines, and Competitive Strategies for U.S.-China Competition

By: Henry Holst |

Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program has spurred a small but fierce debate over the merits of Taiwan’s submarine aspirations. This study argues that the discussion surrounding Taiwan’s IDS program fails to consider the potential long-run strategic benefits for the United States. Taiwan’s IDS program could spur greater PLA budgetary allocation in an area of favorable U.S.-China technological asymmetry: anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Given the high probability of greater PLA investment in high-end war fighting capabilities, larger PLA spending on ASW is comparatively less threatening to U.S. regional interests than other capabilities within high-technology confines. This study concludes by recommending a reevaluation of the long-run strategic merits of assisting Taiwan’s pursuit of a submarine program.

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