The two Perry-class guided missile frigates were officially commissioned in a ceremony attended by Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen at Zuoying base in southern Kaohsiung City on Thursday.
Taiwan’s navy said the warships — named Ming Chuan and Feng Chia — enjoy “high mobility, high sea resistance and low noise,” adding that the two are equipped with the SQR-19 sonar system currently used by the US Navy.
The frigates, acquired from the US during the administration of former president Barack Obama, will be deployed to patrol the Taiwan Strait, a narrow waterway that separates the island and China, according to the navy.
“Taiwanese people are once again sending a clear and determined message to the world and international community. That is, we will defend the Republic of China Taiwan and safeguard our lifestyle based on freedom and democracy. We will make no concession,” Tsai said after inspecting the ships.
She pledged to continue enhancing self-ruled Taiwan’s naval capabilities to maintain what she called “solid defense and multi-layered deterrence” to guard the island.
The 62-year-old president also criticized China’s growing military activities across the region, claiming that the moves not only sought to “weaken Taiwan’s sovereignty but will also damage regional peace and stability.”
China has bolstered its military presence near Taiwan, sailing its only operating aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait in January and March and holding extensive “encirclement” exercises nearby in recent months.
China claims full sovereignty over Taiwan; and almost all world countries, including the US since 1979, recognize that sovereignty under a policy known as “One China.”
Beijing has pursued reunification ever since Taiwan broke away from mainland China during a civil war in 1949.
But Washington has extensive military ties with Taiwan, forwarding advanced military hardware to the island state over the objections of China.
Under President Donald Trump, the US has been enhancing relation with Taiwan.
Beijing’s relations with Taipei have particularly been strained since Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, came to power in 2016. She has strong anti-China inclinations and refuses to acknowledge that both sides are part of “One China.”