Germany smashes US Fancy of Submarine Sale to Taiwan

Sources from DW-World say the US One Equity Partners (OEP), a financial investor, has recently announced its intention to sell its 75 percent shareholding in Germany's largest shipyard HDW. Since OEP has allegedly transferred submarine technologies to China's Taiwan, this news draws as wide attention as OEP's acquisition of HDW did.

Last April, some media speculated that eight conventional-powered submarines would be included in the arms sale by the US to this island province. However, the US military plants have no longer produced conventional submarines in the last 40 years. Where would the eight conventional-powered submarines turn out? So in order to realize this goal, the US has long been thinking of acquiring Kiel submarine building plant, located in North Germany.

The Kiel-based shipyard, a HDW subsidiary, is noted for its production of sophisticated merchant and naval ships around the world. In particular, the shipyard has long been a major focus of the US military industry's attention for its U-31 conventional-powered submarines that are equipped with AIP systems, the most advanced and technological-maturing propulsion system around the world. At that time, HDW was in a serious predicament because of heavy debts. Seizing the opportunity, OEP purchased HDW's 75 percent share worth EUR624 million (including a debt of EUR524 million) last June.

AIP system, which produces electrical energy from vaporized oxygen and liquid hydrogen, permits U-31 submarines to cruise under water for weeks without surfacing. In addition, the fuel cell makes no noise and produces no giveaway exhaust heat. These factors help to make the submarine virtually undetectable.

Shortly after OEP's takeover of HDW, Northrop Grumman Corporation, an US arms dealer, expressed the intention of cooperation with HDW to sell U-31 submarines to Taiwan. Later, the two companies signed a contract to co-produce submarines and anti-submarine frigates. With regard to collaboration in submarine, HDW is responsible for production of the case and propulsion systems, while Northrop Grumman for installation of arms and electrical parts.

Smug as the calculations are, they are upset by the German law. The German arms export regulations provide expressly that Germany will never sell arms to Taiwan. Besides, the government takes a clear-cut stand, reiterating last October that the German government pursues the "One China" policy and that it won't approve any arms sale to Taiwan. Even though HDW only provides parts of submarines, the German government has the final decision in destination of these parts. The US has thus failed to attain its attempt to sell arms to Taiwan. Seeing no returns on huge investments in HDW shipbuilder as expected, OEP cleared its stocks in HDW, ready for sale. Due to political consideration, HDW's future owner has become a public focus, once again.

By PD Online Staff Zhu Lizhen

People's Daily Online ---