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US lawmakers reintroduce Taiwan Defense Act

Republican supporters of Taiwan reintroduce bill to ensure US military posture sufficient to deter Chinese invasion

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U.S. Capitol building (AP photo)

U.S. Capitol building (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Republican members of Congress have reintroduced twin bills to ensure the U.S. provides adequate military deterrence to discourage China from attempting an invasion of Taiwan.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) on Wednesday (June 16) announced he is again introducing the Taiwan Defense Act amid "new signs of China's increasing belligerence in the Asia-Pacific and imperial ambitions worldwide." The China hawk referenced China's incursion into Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Tuesday (June 15), which saw the participation of the largest number of Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft yet.

Calling Taiwan a "steadfast partner" of the U.S. in its efforts to maintain a "free and open Indo-Pacific," the bill says that if China forcibly unifies with Taiwan, it would mean not only the end of "one of the great exemplars of freedom and democracy" but also tip the regional balance of power against the U.S. and its allies. Additionally, such a crisis would inhibit American access to markets and trade routes in the region and bring "economic hardship on middle-class and working-class Americans and [increase] the ability of the People's Republic of China to intrude into political life in the United States," the bill states.

The legislation cites top defense analysts and officials from both the Trump and Biden administrations who believe a Chinese invasion would likely unfold rapidly, with the aim of entrenching PLA forces in Taiwan and making any counteroffensive by U.S. and allied forces extremely costly. Concern that such a fait accompli could take place, and soon, has been mounting, the bill states, citing former Indo-Pacific Command chief Phil Davidson's warning earlier this year that China could make such an attempt as early as 2027.

The author asserts that the Taiwan Defense Act the spirit of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the U.S. to maintain the capacity to "resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan." He also quotes Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said in January that a "combat-credible, forward deterrent posture is instrumental to the United States military's ability to deter, and if necessary, deny a fait accompli scenario."

To uphold the Taiwan Relations Act is to prevent a Chinese fait accompli, and the Defense Department must make this a higher priority in order to send a clear message to Beijing, according to the act. It warns that failure to do so would rob Washington's security commitments with other nations in the Indo-Pacific region of credibility and undermine U.S. efforts to counter Beijing's expansion.

The act is co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Steve Daines of Montana, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. U.S. Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who reintroduced his House of Representatives version of the act, said in a hearing Wednesday that "Taiwan's liberty is a vital national interest of the United States, and the Taiwan Defense Act ensures America maintains the capability to deny a CCP [Chinese Communist Party] invasion."

Hawley and Gallagher previously submitted the Taiwan Defense Act in June of last year, but both bills died with the start of a new legislative session in January.


Updated : 2021-07-30 10:22 GMT+08:00