The US House of Representatives is next week expected to vote on the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which includes a provision recommending Taiwan’s inclusion in next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).
The bill, which specifies US Department of Defense budgets and expenditure for the following year, on Sept. 1 was approved by the US House Armed Services Committee after 16 hours of deliberation.
It has now been sent to the full House, which is to debate and vote on the bill next week.
The 1,362-page bill includes three major provisions on Taiwan under sections 1243, 1247 and 1248.
Section 1248 suggests that Taiwan be invited to next year’s RIMPAC, exercises hosted every two years by the US Pacific Fleet near Hawaii.
The world’s largest international maritime military exercise, RIMPAC began in 1971 to foster interoperability between armed forces in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Taiwan has never been invited to participate, although hopes have been high since China was disinvited in 2018 for its military buildup in the South China Sea after joining the prior two exercises.
Section 1243 of the bill calls for a report on the viability of “enhanced cooperation” between Taiwan and the US National Guard by no later than Feb. 15 next year.
In addition to a description of the past 10 years of cooperation, it also requires that the report evaluate the feasibility of cooperation on a “range of activities,” including disaster response, cyberdefense, military medicine, cultural and educational exchanges, and training.
Section 1247 reiterates the congressional stance on defense relations, particularly the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” as the foundation of ties between Taipei and Washington.
In the face of an increasingly aggressive China, which is “contrary to the expectation of the peaceful resolution of the future of Taiwan,” the bill calls for continued US support of Taiwan’s self-defense capability.
This includes military articles, training, joint exercises and exchanges between officials “at the strategic, policy and functional levels,” the bill says.
An additional section calling for a report on expanded Chinese influence in Latin America and the Caribbean also requires the inclusion of information on Beijing’s attempts to poach Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the region.
The US Senate’s version of the bill was approved by its Armed Services Committee on July 23.
In its version, the Senate calls on the US to maintain its ability to “deny a fait accompli” against Taiwan, and a briefing on the advisability and feasibility of increasing defense cooperation with Taiwan.
Once both chambers approve their versions of the bill, the two must be reconciled in a bicameral committee and approved again by both houses before it is sent to the president to sign into law.
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