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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. House passes defense bill with provisions supporting Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

12/09/2020 02:21 PM

Washington, Dec. 8 (CNA) The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday passed an annual defense policy bill, which contained sections supporting continued arms sales to Taiwan and establishing an initiative to bolster the U.S. military's presence in the Asia Pacific region.

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed with an overwhelming 335-78 margin in the House, and will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to be voted on this week.

The US$741 billion legislation includes two sections which specifically deal with Taiwan. The first, Section 1260, reiterates that the Taiwan Relations Act and the "Six Assurances" provided by the U.S. to Taiwan in 1982 are "the foundation for United States-Taiwan relations."

Section 1260 also requires the U.S. secretary of state to make an annual briefing to Congress on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan within 45 days of the bill's passage.

Similarly, the section states that the U.S. secretary of defense must brief Congress within 180 days of the bill's passage on the feasibility of establishing a medical security partnership with Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense.

Meanwhile, Section 9724 of the bill calls on the U.S. to ensure that Taiwanese nationals do not face discrimination when seeking employment at international financial institutions, such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

In another portion of the bill, which does not directly refer to Taiwan but could have implications for the region, Congress allocates US$2.235 billion to the U.S. Department of Defense for the establishment of a "Pacific Deterrence Initiative."

According to the bill, the initiative will include activities to "enhance the United States deterrence and defense posture in the Indo-Pacific region, assure allies and partners, and increase probability and readiness in the Indo-Pacific region."

Despite the NDAA's passage in the House, U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to veto the legislation, because it does not contain the repeal of legal liability protections for social media companies.

Adam Smith, Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that the House would attempt to override a presidential veto, noting that the margin in Tuesday's vote had far exceeded the two-thirds threshold for doing so.

The Taiwan Relations Act was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the U.S. "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."

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 Taiwan Relations Act or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Matthew Mazzetta)

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