The US Congress was expected to start voting on a massive military policy bill including authorization of up to US$10 billion in security assistance and fast-tracked weapons procurement for Taiwan.
The compromise version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) does not include some controversial provisions of Taiwan legislation lawmakers proposed this year, including sanctions in the event of “significant escalation in aggression” against Taiwan by China, or a proposal that Taiwan be treated as a “major non-NATO ally.”
Beijing responded angrily when the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved broader Taiwan legislation in September, despite concern within US President Joe Biden’s administration that the bill could go too far in heightening tensions with China.
The Senate and US House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services unveiled the NDAA late on Tuesday.
The US$858 billion military policy bill is expected to pass Congress and be signed into law this month.
The “Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act” included in the NDAA authorizes appropriations for military grant assistance for Taiwan of up to US$2 billion per year from next year through 2027, if the US secretary of state certifies that Taiwan increased its defense spending.
It includes a new foreign military financing loan guarantee authority and other measures to fast-track Taiwan’s weapons procurement, as well as the creation of a training program to improve Taiwan’s defense.
“Taiwan’s democracy remains the beating heart to our Indo-Pacific strategy, and the depth and strength of our commitment to the people of Taiwan is stronger than ever,” said US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the foreign relations committee and sponsor of the Taiwan legislation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its gratitude for the “continued strong support for Taiwan’s security,” adding that it looked forward to the legislation being passed.
China staged military exercises near Taiwan in August after a visit to Taipei by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and has continued its military activities, although on a reduced scale.
Nine Chinese military aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone between 6am on Wednesday and 6am yesterday, the Ministry of National Defense said.
Over the 24 hours, 27 aircraft and four naval vessels belonging to the People’s Liberation Army were active in the vicinity of Taiwan, with nine of the aircraft crossing the median line, which for many years functioned as a de facto maritime border, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The armed forces have tasked combat air patrol aircraft, navy vessels and land-based missile systems in response to the incursions, it added.
Earlier this week, the US Department of State approved the potential sale of US$428 million in aircraft parts to Taiwan to help its air force, which is strained from repeatedly intercepting Chinese jets operating around Taiwan.
Passed every year since 1961, the NDAA addresses everything from soldiers’ pay increases and how many aircraft can be purchased to strategies for addressing geopolitical threats.
The compromise version of the NDAA followed months of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House.
Additional reporting by CNA
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