Mon, Nov 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

US Congress passes defense spending bill, training for Taiwanese mentioned

Staff writer, with CNA

The US Congress has passed the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 that makes provision for Taiwan’s inclusion in US-led training programs with foreign countries as a way of increasing maritime security in the South China Sea and supporting bilateral military exchanges with Taiwan.

The bill will now be sent to the White House for US President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The US Senate passed the bill on Tuesday last week, five days after it cleared the floor of the House of Representatives.

The bill includes a South China Sea Initiative that authorizes the US secretary of defense, with the concurrence of the secretary of state, to provide assistance and training programs aimed at “increasing maritime security and maritime domain awareness of foreign countries along the South China Sea.”

Such assistance and training may be provided to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, the bill says.

It allows for the inclusion of Taiwan, Brunei and Singapore, based on the US secretary of defense’s estimation of the costs beyond the US$50 million allocated for assistance and training under the China South Sea Initiative.

The Congress also passed a joint explanatory statement to accompany the defense act.

“We believe that the United States, in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, should continue to make available to Taiwan such defense articles and services as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self- defense,” the statement said.

The statement also recommended the US Department of Defense carry out an exchange program for military officers from the US and Taiwan to improve military-to-military relations.

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