The US Senate on Thursday approved provisions for enhancing defense and security cooperation between the US and Taiwan, particularly on arms sales, as part of an annual defense policy bill.
The National Defense Authorization Act for next fiscal year, which the Senate passed in an 86-8 vote, authorizes US$750 billion in spending for defense programs at the Pentagon and other agencies.
Section 1257 of the bill reaffirms the sense of the Senate that the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” are cornerstones of US relations with Taiwan.
The US should strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan to support the development of capable, ready and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capability, it states.
The US should also strongly support Taiwan’s acquisition of defense articles and services through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and industrial cooperation, with an emphasis on anti-ship, coastal defense, anti-armor, air defense, undersea warfare, advanced command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as resilient command and control capabilities that support the nation’s asymmetric defense strategy, it says.
The government should continue efforts to improve the predictability of its arms sales to Taiwan by ensuring that Taipei’s requests for defensive articles and services are reviewed and responded to in a timely manner, it adds.
The US secretary of defense should promote policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan, including opportunities for joint practical training and military exercises, and exchanges between senior defense officials and general officers, as well as between junior officers and senior enlisted personnel, the bill stipulates.
It also calls for an expansion of US-Taiwan cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The bill recommends that the secretary of defense consider supporting the visit of a US hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual “Pacific Partnership” mission, as well as the participation of Taiwanese medical vessels in appropriate exercises with the US to improve disaster response planning and preparedness.
The secretary of defense should “continue regular transits of US Navy vessels through the Taiwan Strait, commend the armed forces of France for their April 6 legal transit of the Taiwan Strait, and encourage allies and partners to follow suit in conducting such transits, in order to demonstrate the commitment of the United States and its allies and partners to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” it says.
The bill will not become law until it is passed by the US House of Representatives and the Senate in identical form and then signed by the president.
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