US senators initiate bill to cement ties

A CRITICAL MESSAGE::The proposed Taiwan Assurance Act ‘would deepen bilateral security, economic and cultural relations,’ cosponsor US Senator Tom Cotton said

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Mar 28, 2019 - Page 1

A group of US senators across party lines on Tuesday introduced a bill that would cement two-way ties with Taiwan and support its international presence, as the Taiwan Relations Act is next month to mark its 40th anniversary.

US Senator Tom Cotton said in a statement that he has introduced legislation with five other senators that “would enhance the US-Taiwan relationship and bolster Taiwan’s participation in the international community.”

“Taiwan is a vital democratic partner of the US. Forty years after the Taiwan Relations Act was signed into law, our bilateral ties should reflect this reality,” Cotton said.

Called the Taiwan Assurance Act, the legislation “would deepen bilateral security, economic and cultural relations, while also sending a message that China’s aggressive cross-strait behavior will not be tolerated,” he said.

US Senator Robert Menendez, a bill cosponsor, said that he believes the US Congress needs to make a statement of support for Taiwan 40 years after the Taiwan Relations Act was passed in April 1979.

“It is critical that congress speak with one voice about the importance of maintaining Taiwan’s diplomatic space, deepening our ties with Taipei and assuring the people of Taiwan have a voice in determining their own future,” Menendez said.

Another cosponsor, US Senator Marco Rubio, said that the US must continue to enhance its strategic relationship with Taiwan against an increasingly aggressive China.

“Taiwan is an important democratic partner whose security is critical to advancing America’s national security interests in the Indo-Pacific [region],” he said.

The Taiwan Assurance Act would require the US president to review the US Department of State’s guidelines on relations with Taiwan and direct the US secretary of defense to work to include Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral military training exercises, the statement said.

It would also mandate that a flag or general officer serve as the US defense attache in Taipei and that the US would continue to push for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations.

The bill expresses congressional support for Taiwan’s asymmetric defense strategy, regular US arms sales to Taiwan and the resumption of bilateral trade talks between the US and Taiwan.

To become law, the measure needs to pass the Senate and the House of Representatives, and be signed into law by US President Donald Trump.

Its passage would likely rankle Beijing as the US and China are edging toward a possible deal to ease a months-long tariff dispute.

US Representative Michael McCaul said he plans to introduce companion legislation in the House.

Additional reporting by Reuters