US defense bill signed by Trump aimed at countering China's influence in Taiwan

2020 National Defense Authorization Act proposes establishment of US-Taiwan cybersecurity task force

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President Trump signs NDAA into law Dec. 20.

President Trump signs NDAA into law Dec. 20. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), which was signed into law by President Donald Trump at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday (Dec. 20), is a boost Taiwan's defense against Beijing's influence campaigns.

After being passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 11 and by the Senate on Tuesday (Dec. 17), the new law requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report of Beijing's attempts to affect the safety and welfare of Taiwanese citizens. The NDAA authorizes the U.S. government to collaborate with Taiwan in the areas of cybersecurity, live-fire military drills, arms sales, and humanitarian support, reported CNA.

Another focus of the NDAA is China's influence on Taiwan's presidential election in January, and the legislation requests that the director of national intelligence deliver a report on China's interference in the Taiwanese elections 45 days after the voting. The report also requires a detailed account of Beijing's operations as well as those of Taiwanese political parties and companies supported by the Chinese government.

Trump said the signing of the NDAA was "historic" and that the US$738 billion (NT$22.23 trillion) military budget would be the largest investment in the American armed forces in the country's history, reported Liberty Times. The defense policy bill also encourages high-ranking officials from the U.S. and Taiwan to participate in information exchanges in line with the Taiwan Travel Act.