Washington, May 27 (CNA) The chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill earlier this week to help strengthen security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, including continuing arms sales to Taiwan and expanding military exchanges.
According to the bill proposed by Rep. Mac Thornberry, it is the sense of Congress that the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) “codified the basis for commercial, cultural, and other relations between the United States and Taiwan, and the Six Assurances are an important aspect in guiding bilateral relations.”
The TRA, which was enacted in 1979 after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, states that the U.S. must “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”
In accordance with the TRA, the U.S. should provide a timely review of requests for defense articles and defense services that may be necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, said the section on strengthening Taiwan defense in the proposed bill.
To maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, Taiwan should also significantly increase its defense budget, it said.
Meanwhile, the bill said that the U.S. should support expanded military exchanges with Taiwan, “including exchanges between services, to empower senior military officers to identify and develop asymmetric and innovative capabilities that strengthen Taiwan’s ability to deter aggression.”
The U.S. should also seek opportunities for expanded training and exercises with Taiwan, and encourage it to continue to invest in asymmetric self-defense capabilities “that are mobile, survivable against threatening forces, and able to take full advantage of Taiwan’s geography,” the bill said.
In terms of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises, the bill suggested that the U.S. continue to support exercises that increase Taiwan’s resiliency and ability to respond to and recover from natural disasters and recognize “Taiwan’s already valuable military contributions to such efforts.”
The proposed bill, aimed at strengthening security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, also touched upon the issue of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
(By Tony Liao and Elaine Hou)