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U.S. Senate passes 2021 NDAA, with provisions to support Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

07/24/2020 11:19 AM

Washington, July 23 (CNA) The United States Senate on Thursday passed its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including provisions that support the strengthening of Taiwan's military and further cooperation on efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill cleared the Senate floor with a 86-14 vote.

Provisions that included Taiwan were mentioned in sections 1258 and 1259 of the NDAA, which reiterated that the Taiwan Relations Act and the "Six Assurances" provided by the U.S. to Taiwan in July 1982 are "the foundation for United States-Taiwan relations."

The Six Assurances were given by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan to Taiwan in 1982 and include pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.

They also include assurances that the U.S. will not revise the TRA or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.

Meanwhile, the 2021 NDAA also highlighted U.S. support for the development of Taiwan's military, including through arms sales, exchanges between top defense officials and military exercises.

These exercises could include the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world's largest maritime warfare exercise, if appropriate, the Act states, although Taiwan has never participated before.

The NDAA also acknowledges China's "increasingly coercive and aggressive behavior" toward Taiwan, which is contrary to the U.S.' expectation of a "peaceful resolution" of Taiwan's future.

Citing the Taiwan Relations Act, the NDAA states that the U.S. will maintain the capacity "to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan, including the capacity of the United States Armed Forces to deny a 'fait accompli' operation by the People's Republic of China to rapidly seize control of Taiwan."

A section of the NDAA also advises the Department of Defense to conduct port calls in Taiwan with two U.S. naval hospital ships -- the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy.

The port calls would allow "United States personnel to benefit from the expertise of Taiwanese personnel in light of the successful response of Taiwan to COVID-19" and would allow the two sides to continue collaborating on COVID-19 responses, the Act states.

The visits would also further improve cooperation between the two sides in the areas of military medicine, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, it added.

The U.S. House of Representatives on July 21 passed its own version of the national defense act.

The two houses will soon begin negotiations to hammer out the differences in their competing bills before a finalized version can be signed into law by the U.S. President.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Ko Lin)


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