TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Negotiators from the U.S. House and Senate agreed on Tuesday (Dec. 6) on a final draft of the coming year's defense budget, which will officially include US$10 billion (NT$305.7 billion) in military aid for Taiwan as well as training to bolster its defenses against an invasion by China.
After several months of negotiations, the leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees hammered out the finalized version of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The total budget comes in at US$857.9 billion, about US$80 billion more than 2022.
Faced with rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. is paying more attention to Taiwan's security needs. The 2023 NDAA includes some provisions from the Taiwan Policy Act, which was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 14, followed by a House version two weeks later.
In the finalized version of the defense bill, the U.S. State Department is authorized to provide Taiwan with up to US$2 billion in "Foreign Military Finance grant assistance" each year from 2023 to 2027 for the purchase of weaponry and military equipment. In addition, the bill authorizes US$2 billion in loans to enable Taiwan to purchase arms from the U.S.
The bill also authorizes the U.S. president to build a "regional contingency stockpile" for Taiwan that includes "munitions and other appropriate defense articles." It also affords Taiwan the same treatment as major non-NATO allies on the southern and southeastern flank in receiving the priority to obtain "excess defense materials" from the U.S.
In order to expedite the delivery of arms to Taiwan, the bill requires the State Department and the Department of Defense to prioritize and expedite the processing of Taiwan's arms purchase requests, and to "not delay the processing of requests for bundling purposes."
The bill also pointed out in the "sense of Congress" that holding joint military exercises with Taiwan is an important element to improve combat readiness. It called for Taiwan's Navy to be invited to participate in the 2024 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises.
The bill stated that since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected in 2016, the Chinese government has launched coordinated campaigns against Taiwan in an attempt to weaken the country "diplomatically, economically, and militarily." In order to ensure the interests of the U.S. and maintain the ability of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future, the bill's authors wrote that "it is necessary to reinforce Taiwan's diplomatic, economic, and territorial space."
The document also pointed out that the decision of the U.S. to establish diplomatic relations with China was based on the expectation that Taiwan's future is resolved through peaceful means. Therefore, any attempts to dictate Taiwan's future through anything other than peaceful means, "including boycotts and embargoes, is a grave concern to the United States."
The bill is expected to pass in the Senate and House before the end of this month and then be submitted to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.