TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Six Republican and Democratic U.S. senators on Tuesday (March 26) proposed a bill that would strengthen Washington's ties with Taiwan amid increased aggression against the island nation by Communist China.
The top Democrat of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, led five other senators including, Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, and Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Chris Coons to put forth the "Taiwan Assurance Act" to bolster ties between the U.S and Taiwan and increase its participation in the international community.
The top Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Michael McCaul, also plans to introduce companion legislation in the House.
Designed to counter Beijing's increasing military menace against Taiwan, the bill calls for supporting of Taiwan's asymmetric defense strategy, transferring weapons to Taiwan on a regular basis, including Taiwan in military exercises, signing a free trade agreement between the two countries, advocating Taiwan's participation in international organizations, and reviewing state department guidelines for Taiwan, among other measures.
Menendez emphasized the importance of maintaining Taiwan's diplomatic position and increasing ties with the country: "As we mark the fortieth anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, it is critical that Congress speak with one voice about the importance of maintaining Taiwan's diplomatic space, deepening our ties with Taipei, and assuring the people of Taiwan have a voice in determining their own future."
"The United States must continue to enhance our strategic relationship with Taiwan against an increasingly aggressive China," Rubio said. "Taiwan is an important democratic partner whose security is critical to advancing America’s national security interests in the Indo-Pacific."
Cotton said that the new bill is designed to send a strong message to China: "Taiwan is a vital democratic partner of the United States. 40 years after the Taiwan Relations Act was signed into law, our bilateral ties should reflect this reality. This legislation would deepen bilateral security, economic, and cultural relations, while also sending a message that China's aggressive cross-Strait behavior will not be tolerated."
According to Cotton, the bill will enhance the U.S.-Taiwan relationship in the following ways:
- Mandates that the president conduct a review of the State Department's guidelines on U.S. relations with Taiwan.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to make efforts to include Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral military training exercises.
- Requires that a flag or general officer serve as the U.S. defense attaché in Taipei.
- States that the United States will continue to advocate for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations.
- Expresses Congressional support for Taiwan's asymmetric defense strategy, regular U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and the resumption of bilateral trade talks between the United States and Taiwan.
Cotton posted a tweet on Tuesday announcing the bill:
China's growing aggression against Taiwan makes the U.S.-Taiwan relationship more important than ever. 40 years after the Taiwan Relations Act was passed, I introduced a bill that would further improve our relations with this strategic partner. https://t.co/XwTBl9uXRN— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) 2019年3月26日