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US defense bill calls for strengthening Taiwan's defenses against China

US defense bill up for review in Congress today calls for strengthening Taiwan's defense capabilities against China

Taiwan Navy Kang Ding frigate.

Taiwan Navy Kang Ding frigate. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- This year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) up for consideration today in the U.S. Congress includes a section that calls for ways to improve Taiwan's defense capabilities, increase joint training, allow for weapons sales, and enable senior-level military exchanges, in order to counter China.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 up for review by the U.S. Congress’ Armed Services Committee later today (May 9) in Washington includes a section added by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) specifically directed at strengthening Taiwan's defenses. Titled "Section 1243—Strengthening Taiwan's Force Readiness," it reads:

"This section would direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct a comprehensive assessment, in consultation with appropriate counterparts of Taiwan, on ways to enhance and reform Taiwan's military forces, particularly Taiwan's reserve forces. The assessment would also require the development of recommendations to strengthen bilateral cooperation and improve Taiwan's selfdefense capabilities. The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, would be required to submit a report on the assessment and a list of recommendations and planned actions to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act."

Also, in a summary of the bill it states that "the Chinese Communist Party, is working to undermine the world order which has existed since the end of World War II," and that "China is using an 'all-of-nation long-term strategy' and 'leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage.'" Thornberry then lists eight suggestions on countering China's aggressive strategy which includes strengthening Taiwan's defenses:

"Supports improving Taiwan’s defense capabilities, expands joint training, foreign military sales, the use of security cooperation authorities, and senior-level military-to-military engagement initiatives with Taiwan."