US Senate passes bill in support of military exchanges with Taiwan

US Senate approved US$640 billion defense spending bill that includes a requirement for report on enhanced military exchanges between the two countries

  227
United States Capitol.

United States Capitol. (By Wikimedia Commons)

Washington, Sept. 18 -- The U.S. Senate on Monday approved a US$640 billion defense spending bill that includes a requirement for an assessment report on enhanced military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 cleared the Senate in a vote 89-8 in a full session Monday, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed another version of the same bill in July.

According to U.S. legislative regulations, the two houses of Congress have to coordinate on their respective versions and come up with a single bill, which will be have to signed by U.S. President Donald Trump before it can take effect.

Regarding Taiwan issues, the Senate version of the bill states that it is "the sense of Congress" that the U.S. should strengthen its long-standing partnership and strategic cooperation with Taiwan.

The two versions of the bill say that not later than Sept. 1, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Defense shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on an assessment regarding ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan.

The report should also include an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of permitting the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) to receive ports of call by the navy of Taiwan in Hawaii, Guam and other appropriate locations, according to the Senate version.

It also says the U.S. Secretary of Defense should implement a technical assistance program to support Taiwan's efforts to develop indigenous undersea warfare capabilities, including vehicles and sea mines.

The Secretary of Defense should also invite Taiwan forces to participate in joint military exercises and should seek to enhance military exchanges between senior officers and officials of the U.S. and Taiwan, the bill says.

Unlike the Senate bill, the House version contains a clause on arms sales and defense services to Taiwan.

According to the House bill, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, should take action within four months of receiving a formal request from Taiwan to obtain arms or service, and submit a report on the issue to the appropriate congressional committees.