Washington, June 18 (CNA) The U.S. Senate on Monday passed an annual defense policy bill for fiscal year 2019, which included recommendations for American troops to participate in Taiwan’s military exercises and vice versa.
The National Defense Authorization Act cleared the Senate 85-10, after the House of Representatives passed a similar bill on May 24.
Section 1243 of the bill reiterates the Unites States’ decades-long stance that the Taiwan Relations Act and “Six Assurances” are both cornerstones of Taiwan-U.S. relations.
Based on those cornerstones, the U.S. should “strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan to support the development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” the bill states.
It also says the U.S. secretary of defense should promote department of defense policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan, “including U.S. participation in appropriate Taiwan exercises, such as the annual Han Kuang exercise” and vice versa.
The annual Han Kuang military exercises are Taiwan’s biggest annual drill. It is held in two stages, starting with computer-aided war games, after which live-fire drills are staged across the country.
The U.S. Senate bill also calls for both sides to expand cooperation in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and urges the secretary of defense to consider supporting a visit by an American hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual “Pacific Partnership” mission to improve disaster response planning and preparedness.
(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Y.F. Low)