With the launch of its first home-built submarine prototype Thursday, Taiwan has not only showcased its growing defense-industrial prowess but also sent a warning to China that attempts to blockade or invade the self-ruled island will come at a high cost.

How Taipei deploys what is set to be a fleet of eight new attack submarines over the coming years — possibly in coordination with U.S. and Japanese forces — will be crucial in its efforts to deter or counter China’s increasingly capable military, experts say, particularly as Beijing stages almost daily drills to assert its sovereignty claims over the democratic island.

Part of the multibillion Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program, the 70-meter-long Hai Kun, named after a sea monster from Chinese legend, was formally launched during a ceremony presided over by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at a CSBC Corp. shipyard in Kaohsiung.