The US Congress on Thursday unveiled a defense bill that reaffirms the US’ commitment to Taiwan and includes provisions to explore a medical partnership between the nations.
Under the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, agreed upon by the US Senate’s and House of Representatives’ armed services committees, the US secretary of defense should work with the US secretary of health and human services to establish a medical security partnership with Taiwan.
In 180 days after the bill becomes law, the defense secretary must submit a report to the committees on the feasibility of such a partnership.
The report should account for “the goals and objectives of developing a medical security partnership on issues related to pandemic preparedness and control” and “a discussion of current and future plans to cooperate on medical security activities.”
It must also include “an evaluation of the feasibility of cooperating on a range of activities under the partnership, including research and production of vaccines and medicines; joint conferences with scientists and experts; collaboration relating to and exchanges of medical supplies and equipment; and the use of hospital ships such as the US Naval Ship Comfort and US Naval Ship Mercy.”
The bill also reaffirms the US’ Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” as the foundation of ties between Washington and Taipei, which serve as the bedrock for the nations to “fully pursue the deepening of the extensive, close and friendly relations” and “facilitate greater cooperation and the broadening and deepening of United States-Taiwan relations.”
The act defines Washington’s relations with Taipei, requiring the US to make available “defense articles and services” to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities.
The “six assurances,” made by then-US president Ronald Reagan in 1982, pledge not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan and not to consult with China on such sales.
According to the defense bill, with China raising its military threats and acts of coercion against Taiwan, the US should “continue to support the development of capable, ready and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, including supporting acquisition by Taiwan of defense articles and services through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and industrial cooperation.”
This cooperation should have “an emphasis on capabilities that support Taiwan’s asymmetric defense strategy, including anti-ship, coastal defense, anti-armor, air defense, undersea warfare, advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and resilient command and control capabilities,” the bill said.
The defense bill requires US Senate and House approval before it is sent to the president to be signed into law.
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