The US Senate on Tuesday passed legislation asking the government to help Taiwan keep its remaining 15 diplomatic allies, while supporting its international presence.
The legislation titled Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act of 2019, or TAIPEI Act 2019, was unanimously passed.
The act, initiated by US Senator Cory Gardner, was introduced in May to express US support for Taiwan’s diplomatic alliances.
In September last year, Gardner initiated TAIPEI Act 2018, but it failed to clear the Senate.
This year’s act authorizes the US Department of State to consider “reducing its economic, security and diplomatic engagements with nations that take serious or significant actions to undermine Taiwan.”
The US government should also help Taiwan gain participation in international organizations, either as a member or an observer, and express its support for Taiwan’s international participation when it interacts with Beijing, the act says.
The bill’s passage came one day before the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee was set to review its own version of the act.
Once it passes the House, a committee made up of both legislative bodies would work out differences between the two versions to come up with a single version before returning the bill to both bodies for approval.
The act would then be sent for the approval of US President Donald Trump, who would have 10 days to sign it into law, or veto it.
In related news on Tuesday, the nominee to become the next US ambassador to the Marshall Islands pledged to do her best to help Taiwan keep the Pacific ally.
Speaking at her nomination hearing before the Senate, Roxanne Cabral said that the Marshall Islands, as one of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic partners, “plays an important role in maintaining stability in cross-strait relations.”
She pledged, if confirmed as ambassador, to work hard to maintain the US’ strong partnership with the Marshall Islands, together with Taiwan.
Asked what she would do keep the Marshall Islands as a close ally of the US and Taiwan, she said that pushing back against China would be important.
“If confirmed, I would try to strengthen this relationship, encourage a stronger relationship and help the Marshall Islands create an environment that can push back on predatory economic practices of China that we have been seeing around the world,” she said.
Cabral listed ways to support Taiwan and fight against Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which the US sees as creating debt traps in the countries that join the initiative.
Transparency should be increased and “bad deals” exposed, while also providing better alternatives and maintaining a strong presence in the region, she told the hearing.
Cabral, who is likely to be confirmed, said there are positive signs that relations remain strong.
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine and the nation’s parliament expressed their support for Taiwan after it lost two Pacific allies last month, while Heine visited Taiwan last week and witnessed the signing of two bilateral agreements, Cabral said.
The career diplomat most recently served as deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Panama. She has also served in Guangzhou, China, and speaks Chinese and Spanish, according to the US Department of State.
Four of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies are in the Pacific region: the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu.
The National Security Council has warned that the nation could lose more before the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections.
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