This week, the Senate moved a step closer to approving billions of dollars in new military aid to Taiwan, a move that is sure to stoke tensions with Chinese Communist Party officials who have already called the proposal of “abusive” and “dangerous”.
The Senate began work Tuesday on an amended version of the annual defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The version called in the Senate includes legislation of the senses. Bob Menendez, DN.J., and Lindsey Graham, RS.C., which authorizes $6.5 billion in aid that Taiwan could use to build up its military capabilities.
The Senate hopes to pass the bill after the midterm elections. Its passage will likely draw a forceful response from China, which called the bill “a big step backwards in China-US relations” when it was introduced.
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China regularly warns that the United States’ involvement with Taiwan amounts to dangerous interference in China’s internal affairs and deviates from the “One China” policy. But Menendez said the Taiwan military aid bill was about preventing conflict, not marching toward war.
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“We have to be clear about what we’re up against, just like we have to be clear about our response,” Menendez said over the summer. “Despite what some may try to argue, the main purpose of this bill has always been deterrence and Taiwan’s capacity building.”
The Taiwanese language included in the NDAA greatly enhances U.S. assistance and involvement with Taiwan. It would allow the State Department to issue direct loans and loan guarantees to Taiwan for the purpose of supplying weapons and providing up to $2 billion in grants to the Taiwanese military.
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It changes federal law so that a larger cache of ammunition can be stored near Taiwan in case it is needed to repel an attack from China, and it implements a fast-track system that allows weapons to move more quickly to Taiwan.
It calls for a multi-year plan to help Taiwan acquire “appropriate defensive capabilities” and more joint training exercises with the United States.
The bill calls on federal agencies to help Taiwan ‘advance a strategy of denial, reduce the threat of conflict [and] thwart an invasion.”
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It also calls for a detailed plan to respond to Chinese propaganda and an assessment of how China might rethink military action against Taiwan in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.