US Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday introduced a bill aimed at fast-tracking the transfer of US weapon systems to Taiwan and improving joint military training to make sure Taiwan can defend itself in case of a Chinese invasion.
In a statement released by his office, Rubio said he proposed the bill because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would not be the last time an authoritarian regime invades its neighbor.
“An invasion of Taiwan could happen within this decade. Taiwan needs our support,” he said, adding that the bill he introduced “will make [Chinese President] Xi Jinping [習近平] and the Chinese Communist Party think twice before launching a foolish invasion.”
Called the Taiwan peace through strength act, the bill requires the US Department of Defense to conduct an annual review of US war plans to defend Taiwan and develop a list of specific capabilities that Taiwan is approved to acquire based on that assessment, the statement said.
The bill requires the department to fast-track foreign military sales (FMS) to Taiwan by requiring the US Department of State to preclear the capabilities identified in the department’s annual review for expedited transfer to Taiwan, it said.
It also asks the department to compel defense contractors to place Taiwan’s FMS orders ahead of those of other countries on the production line, regardless of the order in which the contracts were signed.
It further proposes to amend the Taiwan Relations Act to replace “outdated language regarding ‘arms of a defensive character’ with new language that sets an enhanced standard for arms sales to deter conflict with the PLA [People’s Liberation Army].”
The bill also recommends the establishment of a comprehensive joint training program aimed at improving Taiwan’s defense capabilities, among others.
In related news, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said that Washington is partnering with Taipei to build greater resilience against Beijing’s disinformation efforts.
Asked to comment on the US Department of State’s repeated warnings that China has tried for years to pressure media outlets in Taiwan to not publish articles critical of Beijing, Blinken said that Taiwan is “quite literally on the front lines of the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] hybrid warfare, including disinformation and cyberattacks.”
Such warfare is designed to distort the information environment and democratic processes, he said at a press event at the state department’s Washington Foreign Press Center on World Press Freedom Day.
To counter such attacks, the US has joined with Taiwanese authorities and civil organizations “to support independent, fact-based journalism, to try to build societal resilience to disinformation and other forms of foreign interference,” he said.
Blinken said that US President Joe Biden’s administration has made it clear that free speech is incredibly important at home and around the world.
He reiterated Washington’s deep concern that Beijing has been misusing technology to increase “surveillance, harassment, intimidation, censorship of PRC citizens, of journalists, of activists and others.”
He also accused leaders in Beijing of using the free and open media to spread propaganda and disinformation, and to threaten critics even outside China’s territory.
“We’ve condemned and we’ve taken action against these efforts, and we’ll continue to defend the principles of a free press, an open, secure, reliable and interoperable Internet, and the benefits that flow from it,” he said.
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would