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U.S. Congress passes pro-Taiwan provisions in massive funding bill

ROC Central News Agency

12/22/2020 04:33 PM

Washington, Dec. 21 (CNA) The United States Congress on Monday adopted provisions to support Taiwan's defense capacity and encourage its participation in international organizations as part of a US$2.3 trillion government funding and pandemic relief package.

The measures, known collectively as the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2020, were approved after being tacked on to the must-pass "omnibus" spending bill, which cleared both the House of Representatives and the Senate on Monday night.

It is expected to be signed into law this week by President Donald Trump.

The Taiwan Assurance Act reiterates Congress' support for continuing to deepen U.S.-Taiwan ties on the basis of the Taiwan Relations Act, and notes that Taiwan is "a vital part" of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy formalized by the State Department in 2019.

For those reasons, the bill states, the United States "should conduct regular sales and transfers of defense articles to Taiwan in order to enhance its self-defense capabilities, particularly its efforts to integrate asymmetric capabilities, including undersea warfare and air defense capabilities, into its military forces."

Meanwhile, the bill calls for the U.S. to advocate for Taiwan's "meaningful participation" in international bodies including the United Nations, the World Health Assembly (WHA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO).

The U.S. should also push for Taiwan's membership in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other organizations for which statehood is not a requirement for membership, according to the bill.

In another portion of the legislation, Congress requires the secretary of state to conduct a review of the State Department's guidance that governs relations with Taiwan, including the periodic memorandum titled "Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan," within 180 days of the bill's enactment.

Prior to the deadline, the bill says, the secretary of state must also brief Congress on the results of the review, as well as on the implementation of the 2018 Taiwan Travel Act, which allows high-level officials of the United States to visit Taiwan and vice versa.

Competing versions of the Taiwan Assurance Act were introduced by Senator Tom Cotton and Representatives Eliot Engel and Michael McCaul in March and April, respectively, of last year. The House passed its version of the legislation on May 7, 2019, but it was not taken up for consideration in the Senate until it was added to the spending bill.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Matthew Mazzetta)


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