US Senate panel moves bill to boost US ties with Taiwan

FILE PHOTO – Taiwanese flags wave during the reception for St. Vincent and Prime Minister of the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves (not pictured) outside the presidential palace in Taipei, Taiwan. Reuters/Ann Wang

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WASHINGTON, Sep 14 (Reuters) – A US Senate committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would significantly increase US military support for Taiwan, including billions of dollars in additional security aid, as China’s democratic Increases military pressure on the officially governed island.

Despite concerns about the bill in US President Joe Biden’s administration and anger about Beijing’s measure, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 by 17-5.

The strong bipartisan vote was a clear indication of the support of both Republicans and Biden’s fellow Democrats for a change in US policy towards Taiwan, such as considering it as a major non-NATO ally.

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Sponsors said the bill would be the most comprehensive restructuring of US policy towards the island since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 – China’s engagement of the US as one of its provinces since Washington opened ties with Beijing that year. is the basis.

“We need to have a clear view of what we are facing while the United States does not seek war or escalating tensions with Beijing,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the committee’s Democratic chairman. “

“If we want to make sure Taiwan has a fighting chance, we must act now,” said Senator Jim Risk, the committee’s top Republican. Any change in the status quo for Taiwan would have “disastrous implications” for the US economy and national security.

The bill would allocate $4.5 billion in security assistance for Taiwan over four years, and support its participation in international organizations.

The act also contained extensive language on sanctions towards China in the event of hostilities in the strait separating it from the mainland.

Beijing’s opposition

When the bill was introduced in June, China responded by saying that Washington would be “compelled to retaliate strongly” if it took action that harmed China’s interests. read more

“We haven’t discussed anything specific,” Hsiao Bi-Khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, told reporters at an event at the Capitol.

“We talked about integrated deterrence in the broad sense of the need to detect different devices to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Straits,” Hsiao said.

He said he has expressed “gratitude” to the Congress for the legislation. “Given the complexity of the different views here in the United States, we are hoping that we can reach some consensus on security, which is our top priority,” she said.

The committee’s approval paved the way for a vote in the full Senate, but there’s no word on when that might happen. To become law, it must also pass the House of Representatives and be signed by Biden or gain enough support to override the veto.

The White House said Tuesday that it is in talks with members of Congress on how to change the act to ensure it does not change long-standing US policy towards Taiwan, which He considers it effective.

The Taiwan bill is likely to translate into a larger piece of legislation to be passed later this year, such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual bill setting policy for the Defense Department.

(This story corrects paragraph 4 on the Taiwanese description)

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Reporting by Patricia Zengrell and Michael Martina; Editing by Jonathan Otis and Richard Chang

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principals.

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