U.S. Congress passes bill on sale of Perry frigates to Taiwan

Washington, Dec. 5 (CNA) The U.S. Senate has approved a bill authorizing the sale of four decommissioned U.S. frigates to Taiwan, a transfer that supports said will enhance Taiwan's defense capability. The bill, which was approved Thursday, will now be sent to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law, which is expected later this month or early in January. The measure, which also approves the transfer of warships to Mexico among other things, was adopted by the House of Representatives in April. Calling Taiwan a staunch democratic ally of the United States, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the legislation will help strengthen the defense capability of Taiwan, with which the United States has an important partnership. Royce was the member who introduced the House version of the bill in November 2013. The Senate version was introduced by another strong supporter of Taiwan on Capitol Hill -- Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
When enacted, the bill will allow the transfer by sale of guided missile frigates USS Gary, USS Carr, USS Taylor and USS Elrod to the Republic of China Navy, which already operates 8 Cheng Kung-class frigates modeled after the 4,100-ton Perry-class ships. There have been reports that the navy will purchase only two of the frigates on offer. The four U.S. frigates were commissioned in 1984 and 1985 and are in the process of being decommissioned by the U.S. Navy. (By Tony Liao and Jay Chen)