Senate Committee Passes Bill to Provide $6.5 Billion in Arms Funding to Taiwan

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a sweeping bill providing $6.5 billion to fund arms and other assistance to Taiwan as China’s military escalates aggressive activity across the country. country.

The Senate Committee passed the Taiwan Policy Act by a margin of 17-5, an outcome that underscores the strong bipartisan support for Taiwan. The bill – which still requires full Senate and House approval – marks the first time that the US has directly funded arms supplies to Taiwan.

TPA also created a $2 billion loan to help Taipei buy weaponsand it makes Taiwan eligible to participate in a program that helps it stockpile weapons in advance for any possible future conflict with China.

The bill would also require the White House to impose sanctions on at least five Chinese state-owned banks if the US president determines that China has “engaged in a significantly escalated act of aggression”. ” for Taiwan, such as a blockade or occupation outside of it. islands.

“We need to be clear about what we’re facing, just as we need to be clear in our response,” said Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic party supporting the bill. “We are cautiously and strategically downplaying the existential threats Taiwan faces by raising the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high of a risk and unattainable.”

Congressional support for Taiwan, already strong, has grown in recent years as China has sent more fighter jets and bombers into Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone”. But momentum helped Taiwan pick up speed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and gained momentum after China responded to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. with large-scale military exercises.

“As China ramps up its rhetoric of threats and military aggression, it is imperative that we act now to strengthen Taiwan’s ability to defend itself,” said Jim Risch, the top Republican on the committee. Loan before it’s too late.” “We must overcome a future crisis and give [president] Xi Jinping has reason to think twice about invading or coercing Taiwan.”

China imposes the law before the vote, accusing the US of diluting the “One China” policy. Under the policy that has existed since the US and China normalized diplomatic relations in 1979, Washington recognizes Beijing as the government of China while acknowledging – disapproving – their view that Taiwan is part of China.

Highlighting growing concern about Taiwan, US President Joe Biden this year warned that the US military would defend Taiwan against any Chinese attack. Taiwan is also heavily featured in the five conversations Biden and Xi have had since the former took office.

The White House has repeatedly denied China’s claims that it is undermining the “One China” policy. But the Biden administration has convinced Democratic senators to change some parts of the TPA that they consider symbolic, but that will do nothing to ensure Taiwan’s safety and could provoke China. and provide Beijing with assertions that Washington is diluting four decades of policy.

A person familiar with the congressional process said the foreign affairs committee is working with the Senate armed services committee to include key parts of the bill in the must-pass defense spending bill. is the only major piece of legislation likely to be passed before the midterm elections in November.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter

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