TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Just before the Christmas holiday, United States President Barack Obama signed the annual defense authorization act in which requires the Pentagon to facilitate military exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan, following the approval by the House and Senate on December 2 and 8, respectively. It is also the first of its kind to regulate the exchanges with the island country in U.S. domestic law.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (2017 NDAA) is a year-end policy bill encompassing every aspect of the U.S. military, which contains several provisions with 'potentially momentous consequences,' the Los Angeles Times reported, including heightened tension or a 'space-based arms race' with Russia and China, thanks to a provision that demands the Pentagon to start 'research, development, test and evaluation' of space-based systems for missile defense.
On top of that, the act stipulated that the Pentagon shall carry out a program of exchanges of 'senior military officers and senior officials between the U.S. and Taiwan' designed to improve military-to-military relations between the two.
Section 1284 defines 'exchanges' as an activity, exercise, event or observation opportunity between Taiwan and U.S. military officers and senior defense officials. (See full text of Sec. 1284)
'Senior military officers' is defined as an active general or flag officer of the armed forces and 'senior officials' as Pentagon officials at the level of Assistant Secretary of Defense or above.
As for the location of the exchange, the text states it should be conducted in both the U.S. and Taiwan.
On Friday, Obama signed the bill into law.
On Saturday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense expressed gratitude in a statement in response to the signing, saying it looks forwards to continuing mutual cooperation and jointly striving for regional peace and stability following the exchanges.