WASHINGTON (CNA) – Two Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced the Taiwan Security Act to enhance military cooperation and exchanges between the United States and Taiwan.
The legislation, initiated by Rep. Michael McCaul and Robert Pittenger, echoed a bill introduced in the Senate in July by Republican Senator Tom Cotton.
According to a statement released by McCaul, the bill mandates senior defense and diplomatic exchanges at the flag officer and assistant secretary level or above and reestablishes an annual strategic dialogue on arms sales in order to ensure the regular transfer of defense articles.
It also directs the U.S. Secretary of Defense to invite Taiwanese forces to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise and the 2018 edition of the Red Flag air-to-air combat exercise.
In addition, the bill requires U.S Navy port visits to Taiwan and vice versa and expresses Congressional support for Taiwan’s plan to spend 3 percent of GDP on defense and for its ongoing efforts to suspend all economic ties with North Korea.
McCaul urged Washington to “stand firm behind our ally Taiwan” and stop allowing its foreign policy to be dictated by China, which he described as “a nation that continuously bullies its neighbors, undermines U.S. economic and national security, threatens global trade in the South China Sea, and has refused to use its leverage over North Korea to help resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula.”
“While respecting our one-China policy, we must return to our normal process for approving arms sales to Taiwan and encouraging their participation alongside the U.S. on the international stage when and where appropriate,” he said in the statement.
Agreeing with McCaul, Pittenger said the United States’ relationship with China is challenged through their current provocations in the South China Sea, cyber threats, business investments which impact U.S. national security and economic support for North Korea.
“This legislation strengthens our relationship with the freedom-loving people of Taiwan and provides a necessary counter-balance to China’s increased aggressiveness in the region,” he added. •
By Rita Cheng and Y.F. Low