TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two U.S. congressmen have submitted an amendment to exempt Department of Defense (DoD) personnel from restrictions the Biden administration has reimposed on interactions with Taiwan.
Representatives Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and Scott Perry (R-PA) put forward Amendment #119 to the H.R. 4350 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. The amendment would exempt DoD personnel from restrictions reinstated by the Biden administration on travel to and communication with Taiwan.
The State Department under the Trump administration lifted all restrictions on contacts between American officials and their Taiwanese counterparts on Jan. 9. In March, reports surfaced that the Biden administration would codify many, but not all, of the steps taken by its predecessor to ease restrictions on diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Taipei.
The State Department then announced new guidelines in April for government contacts with Taiwan that would enable U.S. officials to meet more freely with their Taiwanese counterparts. However, according to Tiffany Deputy Chief of Staff Mac Zimmerman, a State Department memo issued on June 29 titled “Memorandum for All Department and Agency Executive Secretaries” reinstated many of the restrictions.
Zimmerman said that the following restrictions were reimposed on DoD personnel:
- DoD and military staff must obtain special permission from the State Department before traveling to Taiwan.
- Such travel must be done only on “tourist” passports, not “official” passports.
- Personnel should not refer to Taiwan as a “country” or “government” and instead use the term “Taiwan authorities” to describe Taiwan’s democratically elected government.
- The display of Taiwan’s national flag and playing of its national anthem is banned on U.S. government premises.
- Taiwanese military personnel attending U.S. military academies are banned from wearing their military uniforms.
- Restrictions on high-ranking DoD personnel attending functions at Twin Oaks.
The Tiffany and Perry amendment calls for exempting DoD military and civilian employees from the "arbitrary restrictions" on travel to Taiwan and limits on "normal communication" with Taiwanese officials. The Rules Committee is set to meet in the coming days to determine whether to allow the House to vote on the amendment next week.