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A bill to improve relations between the U.S. and Taiwan is moving through the U.S. Senate

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Wednesday, a U.S. Senate committe e passed a bill that would give Taiwan a lot more military support from...

Image: Reuters


Berita 24 English - Wednesday, a U.S. Senate committee passed a bill that would give Taiwan a lot more military support from the U.S., including billions of dollars more in security help. This comes as China puts more military pressure on the democratically run island.


The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 was supported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 17 to 5. This was done even though the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden was worried about the bill and Beijing was angry about the measure.



Strong support from both Republicans and Biden's fellow Democrats for changing U.S. policy toward Taiwan, like treating it as a major non-NATO ally, was clear from the strong bipartisan vote.



Sponsors of the bill said it would be the biggest change to U.S. policy toward the island since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. That law has been the basis of U.S. engagement with what China sees as one of its provinces since 1979, when the U.S. and China started talking to each other.



The committee's Democratic chair, Senator Bob Menendez, said, "We need to be clear-eyed about what we're up against." He also stressed that the United States does not want war or more tension with Beijing.



Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the committee, said, "If we want to make sure Taiwan has a fighting chance, we have to act now." He said that any change to the status quo in Taiwan would have "disastrous effects" on the U.S. economy and national security.



The bill would give Taiwan $4.5 billion in security aid over the next four years and back its membership in international groups.



The act also has a lot of language about how to punish China if there are wars across the strait that separates it from the mainland.



BEIJING'S OPPOSITION



When the bill was introduced in June, China said it would be "forced to take resolute countermeasures" if Washington did anything that hurt China's interests.



When reporters at an event at the Capitol asked Taiwan's de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, if she had talked with the White House about specific sanctions, she said, "We haven't talked about any specifics."



Hsiao said, "We talked about integrated deterrence in the broader sense of the need to look into different tools to keep the status quo in the Taiwan Strait."



She said that she had told Congress that she was "grateful" for the law. She said, "Given how complicated it is that people have different ideas here in the U.S., we hope we can find a way to agree on security, which is our top priority."



With the committee's approval, the full Senate can now vote on the bill, but no one knows when that might happen. For it to become a law, it must also pass the House of Representatives and be signed by Vice President Joe Biden, or it must get enough votes to get past a veto.



The White House said on Tuesday that it was talking with members of Congress about how to change the act so that it doesn't change what the White House thinks is a good long-standing U.S. policy toward Taiwan.



The Taiwan bill is likely to be added to a bigger bill that is expected to pass later this year, like the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is a bill that is passed every year to set policy for the Department of Defense.




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