The Taiwan Policy Act, aimed at strengthening and clarifying relations between the US and Taiwan, was unanimously passed on Thursday by the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
It will now go to the Foreign Affairs Committee and must be voted on by the full US House of Representatives and Senate before it can become law.
The act would authorize the sale of F-16C/D aircraft, allow high-ranking Taiwanese officials to visit Washington, authorize the transfer of decommissioned missile frigates to Taiwan and support Taiwanese membership of international organizations.
“[The act] will strengthen the relationship between our two nations, and I want to emphasis the word nations,” subcommittee chairman Steve Chabot said.
“Taiwan is a democracy and is a friend and ally and deserves to be treated as such by the US government,” Chabot said.
“Since 2006, Taiwan has been unsuccessful in procuring new F-16C/D jets. I am told the [US President Barack] Obama administration has under consideration an arms sales package that may include the F-16C/Ds.” he said.
“This legislation would authorize those sales and would provide a very important security shield to Taiwan as it faces aggression from China,” he added.
Chabot said the legislation would also address the issue of diplomatic meetings with high-ranking Taiwanese officials who currently are not allowed to visit Washington.
“It is just nonsense that these people cannot come to Washington and this act will address it and allow Taiwanese officials to enter the US with appropriate respect and meet with US officials. This is an excellent bill,” he added.
Republican Representative Ileana Ros Lehtinen said that Taiwan continued to be an “essential” ally of the US.
“This bill tells the Taiwanese people just how deeply we appreciate their friendship,” she said.
California Republican Dana Rohrabacher issued a warning to the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
He said that two years ago, as a result of pressure from Beijing, Taipei was threatening to withdraw its permission for the Falun Gong spiritual movement to broadcast TV programs into China from a Taiwan-based satellite facility.
Rohrabacher said that he had called Ma to say that if the Falun Gong was not allowed to broadcast, he would have to reconsider his support for Taiwan.
Taipei responded by allowing the broadcasts, but issued a license for only two years, and that license would soon have to be renewed, Rohrabacher said.
He said that he hoped the Ma administration would not “be doing the bidding of Beijing” by cutting off the Falun Gong and said he hoped that it would renew the license.