The US House of Representatives on Friday passed the US military budget for next year, with an amendment that stipulates that if the US Department of Defense invites Beijing to participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), a similar invitation must also be extended to Taiwan.
The amendment was proposed by Mark Walker.
The amendment said that the US secretary of defense “shall invite the military forces of Taiwan to participate in any maritime exercise known as the Rim of the Pacific Exercise” if the secretary has invited the military forces of the People’s Republic of China to participate.
The amendment specified that “this section takes effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.”
The US National Defense Authorization Act, which passed 269 to 151, is to go to US President Barack Obama only after the US Senate passes the same or a similar bill.
China’s navy took part in RIMPAC — the largest international maritime warfare exercise in the world — in the summer of last year.
After being informed of the news, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said in Taipei that the Republic of China (ROC) military welcomed the development.
The ministry intends to play a more active role in regional security and shoulder more responsibility for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and is keen to be an observer at international organizations focused on security and cooperation while taking part in joint exercises, Lo said.
“We have expressed our willingness to take part in RIMPAC,” Deputy Minister of National Defense Admiral Chen Yung-kang (陳永康) said on April 20 in Taipei, local media reported last month.
Talks are under way between the Republic of China (ROC) Navy and the US Navy on the use of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), Chen told a committee meeting in the legislature.
After establishing a CUES protocol based on international radio signal communication procedures, the ROC Navy “could have the opportunity to take the next step of participating in joint multinational naval exercises,” Chen said.
Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and China reached agreement on the CUES with the US before being allowed to participate in joint exercises and expand cooperation between their armed forces and that of the US, Chen added.
Obama has threatened to veto the legislation, which US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter last week described as a road to nowhere, the New York Times reported on Friday.
Senator John McCain, chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, said he hoped the two chambers would work together to produce a bill the president will sign, according to the Times.
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