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US proposes bill to boost Chinese Taipei military with up to $10 billion in funding

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Flags of Chinese Taipei and the United States are placed for a meeting in Taipei, on March 27, 2018. (File photo by Reuters)

The military of the United States has proposed a bill that envisages up to $10 billion in funding to strengthen the military and security capabilities of Chinese Taipei, in open defiance of China, which has sovereignty over the self-ruled Island.

The US Congress is expected on Wednesday to start voting on the massive military policy bill by the Pentagon, which aims to boost security cooperation with Taiwan by authorizing up to $10 billion in security assistance and fast-tracked weapons procurement for the island.

The Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act (TERA), which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the coming fiscal year, states that it aims to “strengthen the United States-Taiwan defense relationship” and “prevent the People’s Republic of China from decapitating, seizing control of, or otherwise neutralizing or rendering ineffective Taiwan’s civilian and defense leadership.”

The legislation, which is expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives in December, would directly finance US weapons sales to the island for the first time, and would also establish Washington’s first Taiwan-specific defense modernization program.

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the “one China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty, meaning they would not establish direct diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Taipei.

Chinese Taipei’s secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen has independence aspirations and views the island as a sovereign state, rejecting the “one China” principle. The US, though professing adherence to the principle, has long courted Taipei and sells weapons to the self-governed island in an attempted affront to Beijing.

If the US secretary of state certifies that Chinese Taipei has increased its defense spending, appropriations will be authorized under TERA for military grant assistance to the island of up to $2 billion per year from 2023 through 2027.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed its gratitude for the “continued strong support for Taiwan’s security,” adding that it looked forward to the bill being passed.

The US State Department on Tuesday permitted the potential sale of $428 million in plane parts for Chinese Taipei to aid its air force, which is well-equipped but ageing.

On November 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart, Joe Biden, that the issue of Taiwan was China’s “first red line” in bilateral relations.

Relations between China and the US have been cold in recent years over a host of issues, including technology, security, Chinese Taipei, and human rights. Most recently, the US has bristled at China’s reaction to the war in Ukraine, which Washington says is not strong enough. Beijing has called for an end to the fighting multiple times.

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