October 3, 2022
Senate panel passes bill to provide .5bn for arms financing for Taiwan

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a comprehensive bill to provide $6.5bn in arms and other aid for Taiwan as Chinese forces increase their offensive activity around the island.

The Senate panel passed the Taiwan Policy Act by a 17-5 margin, underscoring strong bipartisan support for Taiwan as a result. The bill – which requires approval by the full Senate and House – would mark the first time the US would directly finance a provision of weapons to Taiwan.

The TPA also creates a $2 billion line of credit to help Taipei buy more weapons, and it qualifies Taiwan for a program that allows the country to advance for any potential future conflict with China. Will help to stockpile weapons.

The bill would also require the White House to ban at least five Chinese state-owned banks if the president determines that China engaged in “a significant escalation of aggression” against Taiwan with activity such as a blockade or seizure of Taiwan. attached”. its outer islands.

“We need to be clear about what we are facing, just as we need to be clear in our response,” said Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the panel that supported the bill. “We are carefully and strategically mitigating the existential threats facing Taiwan by increasing the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too risky and unacceptable.”

Congress’s support for Taiwan, which was already strong, has grown over the years as China has flown more and more fighter jets and bombers into Taiwan’s “air defense detection zone”. But the pace of aid to Taiwan has accelerated after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and gained momentum after China responded to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei with massive military exercises.

Jim Rish, the committee’s top Republican, said: “As China intensifies its dangerous rhetoric and military aggression, it is imperative that we take action to strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense before it is too late.” “We must get ahead of the crisis of the future and give” [president] Xi Jinping gave reason to think twice about invading or coercing Taiwan.”

China pulled up the law ahead of the vote, accusing the US of undermining its “one China” policy. As part of the policy, which has existed since the US and China normalized diplomatic relations in 1979, Washington recognized Beijing as the government of China, acknowledging that – without backing – Taiwan is part of China.

Highlighting growing concern about Taiwan, US President Joe Biden warned earlier this year that US forces would defend Taiwan from any Chinese attack. Taiwan has also played a major role in the five talks between the two leaders since Biden took office.

The White House has repeatedly rejected Chinese claims that it was undermining the “One China” policy. But the Biden administration persuaded Democratic senators to replace parts of the TPA, which it saw as symbolic measures that would do nothing to secure Taiwan, but could provoke China, and round up its claim. Can give ammo that Washington was undermining a four-decade-old policy.

A person familiar with Congressional process said the Foreign Relations Committee was working with the Senate Armed Services Committee to incorporate key parts of the bill into the Defense Spending Bill, the only major piece of legislation to be passed before. likely to happen. midterm elections in November

obey Demetri Sevastopulo on twitter

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