TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The United States Senate has passed the TAIPEI Act of 2019 to strengthen Taiwan's diplomatic standing in the world at a time when China is using its growing economic, diplomatic, and military clout to intimidate and isolate the country.
The Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act was passed unanimously with one amendment on Tuesday (Oct. 29), reported CNA. It is aimed at intensifying the government's support for the island nation with a carrots-and-sticks approach, ramping up "economic, security, and diplomatic engagement" with countries that have "strengthened, enhanced, or upgraded relations with Taiwan." Conversely, the government could punitively reduce engagement with countries whose actions "undermine Taiwan."
The TAIPEI Act also calls for the U.S. administration to advocate for Taiwan's membership in "international organizations in which statehood is not a requirement" and for Taiwan to be granted observer status in other international bodies, such as the U.N., in which recognition is a prerequisite. It also pushes for a free trade agreement to be signed with Taiwan, the U.S.'s 11th largest trading partner.
The legislation was previously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 25. During the committee hearing, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed concern about the growing Chinese threat to Taiwanese democracy and asserted that the U.S. ought to "use every tool to support Taiwan's standing on the international stage."
A similar version of the bill is currently awaiting passage in the House of Representatives. The lower chamber's Foreign Affairs Committee will review the draft legislation on Wednesday (Oct. 30) and is likely to pass it with strong bipartisan support, clearing the bill to move to the House floor for a vote.
After the House passes its draft bill, it must be squared with the Senate version approved on Tuesday. Once an identical piece of legislation has been approved by both chambers, the final stop for the reconciled act will be the desk of President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.