A US Senate committee on Wednesday approved the Taiwan policy act of 2022, which would significantly enhance US military support for Taiwan, including provisions for billions of dollars in additional security assistance, as China increases military pressure on the nation.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the bill 17 to 5.
Some of the bill’s original proposals — including renaming the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington, requiring senate approval for Washington’s envoy to Taipei and designating the country a “major non-NATO ally” — were either removed or made nonbinding in the wake of misgivings from the White House.
The updated bill still includes provisions authorizing up to US$6.5 billion in grants from next year to 2027 for Taipei to purchase US arms.
Sponsors said the bill would be the most comprehensive restructuring of US policy toward Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 — the bedrock of US engagement with Taiwan since Washington opened up relations with Beijing that year.
US lawmakers moved ahead on the act amid heightened worries for Taiwan after Russia invaded Ukraine, and following a visit to Taipei by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which prompted China to stage major military exercises seen as a trial run for an invasion.
US Senator Bob Menendez, who leads the committee and is a member of US President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, said that the US “does not seek war or heightened tensions with Beijing,” but needs to be “clear-eyed.”
“We are carefully and strategically lowering the existential threats facing Taiwan by raising the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high a risk and unachievable,” Menendez said.
US Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the committee, said it is “imperative we take action now to bolster Taiwan’s self-defense before it’s too late.”
Asked about modifications in the revised bill, Menendez said the changes were “minor” compared to provisions on defense assistance, which the senator described as “the core of the bill” alongside clauses relating to international forums and economic engagement.
Although stopping short of designating Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally” — which would have provided it the same status as Australia, Israel, Japan and South Korea with regards to expediting arms sales — the revised bill states that the country “shall be treated as though it were designated a major non-NATO ally for the purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense.”
The committee’s approval paved the way for a vote in the full US Senate, but there has been no word on when that might take place. To become law, it must also pass the US House of Representatives and be signed by the president, or win enough support to override a veto.
The Taiwan bill is likely to be folded into a larger piece of legislation expected to pass late this year, such as the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill setting policy for the US Department of Defense.
China said yesterday that the bill “sent serious wrong signals to Taiwan independence and separatist forces.”
If the bill continues to move forward, “it will greatly shake the political foundation of China-US relations, and will have extremely serious consequences for ... peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) said at a briefing in Beijing.
SEE OFFICE PAGE 3
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
SOVEREIGN NATION: The Chinese premier’s remarks about the CCP’s resolve to achieve unification sought to undermine the legitimacy of Taiwan, the MAC said Taiwan will never accept Beijing’s attempts to undermine its sovereignty, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at its National Day celebrations in Beijing vowed to achieve unification with Taiwan. The CCP’s statement was not conducive to peaceful cross-strait relations, the council said. The event, hosted by the Chinese State Council, featured Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), the other five CCP Politburo Standing Committee members and Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山), as well as 500 guests from China and abroad. Taiwanese based in China also attended the ceremony, Xinhua news agency
The Kaohsiung District Court has ordered a man to pay a convenience store NT$600 (US$18.83) in compensation for using his own mug to refill a pot of tea eggs, ruling against the store manager’s NT$1 million claim. In May, during the peak of a domestic COVID-19 surge, a man surnamed Lee (李) added water from his mug to a pot of tea eggs after seeing it was nearly dry. A clerk stopped Lee, then discarded all 60 eggs in the pot, worth an estimated NT$600, after consulting with the manager, it said. The manager sued Lee, demanding NT$1 million for damage to the
Washington is evaluating a transfer of weapons systems requested by Taiwan, according to a copy of a report by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) that is to be submitted to lawmakers tomorrow. Asked whether the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile would be among the weapons systems, the ministry refused to comment, but said that it would not rule out announcing the specifics later this year. The ministry’s domestically sourced high-priority military investments include submarines, next-generation light frigates, rescue ships, advanced trainer jets and infantry fighting vehicles, the report said. Planned deals include F-16A and F-16B jet performance upgrades, navigation and targeting