US congressional defense committees on Wednesday finalized a compromise US$700 billion defense spending plan for fiscal year 2018 that includes a provision to strengthen defense partnership with Taiwan.
The House of Representatives and the Senate armed services committees agreed on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allocates US$626 billion for base budget spending and an additional US$66 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.
The bill states that it is “the sense of Congress” that the US should strengthen and enhance its long-standing partnership and strategic cooperation with Taiwan, which includes normalizing the arms sales process, taking steps to enhance training and exercises, and promoting exchanges between senior officials.
It also reiterates the US’ commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act.
The two versions of the bill state that by no later than Sept. 1 next year, the US secretary of defense should submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on an assessment regarding ports of call by the US Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable Taiwanese ports.
While the Senate version said the report should also include an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of permitting the US Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwan’s navy in Hawaii, Guam and other appropriate locations, the clause was not mentioned in the summary of the compromise bill published on Wednesday.
The clause could still be included, but Taiwan would have to wait until the full text of the bill is published to find out.
To become law, the NDAA must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then signed by US President Donald Trump.
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did