Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - Page 1 News List

US bill authorizes frigates for Taiwan

ANNIVERSARY:House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce described Taiwan as ‘a beacon of hope and democracy’ after reaffirming support for the 35-year-old TRA

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

The US House of Representatives has passed a new bill reaffirming support for the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and authorizing the sale of four decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan.

There was overwhelming bipartisan support for the legislation, demonstrating on the 35th anniversary of the TRA that Taiwan still has major backing on Capitol Hill.

“America’s support for Taiwan has allowed this island nation to realize its full potential,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said.

“It is now more important than ever that we reaffirm our strong commitment to Taiwan,” California Republican Royce said.

“Taiwan is a beacon of hope and democracy in a part of the world that still yearns for the basic freedoms that Americans and Taiwanese enjoy on a daily basis,” he added.

Royce said the guided missile frigates were “greatly needed” and that the US Congress had made it clear to the administration of President Barack Obama that it wants more arms sales to Taiwan.

The new US bill stresses the importance of maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait and of deepening US-Taiwan trade and security relations.

The Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation and Naval Vessel Transfer Act will now be forwarded to the Senate for further action.

In a statement released in Washington on Monday night, Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said the events of recent days “bear testament” to the vibrancy of Taiwan’s civil society.

“The US commitment to Taiwan’s security embodied in the TRA, as well as steadfast advocacy for human rights by the US Congress in the years subsequent to its enactment, were both indispensable beacons of hope to Taiwan,” Su said.

Also on Monday, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a resolution reaffirming support of the US government for freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region, and for the peaceful resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime disputes.

“In recent years, the East and South China seas — and the airspace above — have been the setting for a series of alarming developments,” a statement from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said. “These maritime issues have created real tension and the potential for conflict in the region that could easily spill over into a broader regional conflict.”

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said freedom of navigation in the region is vital to international commerce and the prosperity and security of the US.

“US allies in the region continue to be threatened by aggressive actions by countries such as China, which is trying to resolve disputes through coercion rather than diplomatic negotiations,” Rubio said. “It is incumbent upon us to stand firm with our allies to promote peaceful cooperation in this vital region.”

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