This week, a legislation will be introduced by Democratic and Republican members of the US House of Representatives. The legislation is part of an effort in Congress to take a hard line in dealings with China. Also, it seeks to boost US support for Taiwan.
Taiwan Peace and Stability Act
The “Taiwan Peace and Stability Act” will be introduced by Representatives Ami Bera and Steve Chabot. Both politicians are the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia subcommittee. The act is a measure that supports the diplomatic, economic and physical space of the self-governing island, Taiwan.
In a telephone interview Bera said, “Hopefully we’re able to pass something in a bipartisan way on the House floor.”
“I think this is an area where we can hopefully speak with one voice.”
Bera expects much of the Taiwan Act to be put into the “Eagle Act”. The Eagle Act is a sweeping Bill on dealings with China. Democratic Representative Greg Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced it in May.
On June 8th, the Senate passed by a strong bipartisan 68-32 majority the “US Innovation and Competition Act,” or USICA. It is a bill worth some US$250 billion to boost the country’s ability to compete with China. This includes massive support for telecommunications equipment and semiconductors industries.
Currently, House leaders do not plan to vote on the Senate Bill. House committees are instead, writing their own legislation. Before it becomes a law, this bill must pass the House, be combined with the Senate Bill and pass both chambers. The lengthy process normally takes weeks to finalize.
A switch from the long-standing US stance of “strategic ambiguity” is not advocated by the new House Taiwan Bill. This is despite calls for a clear commitment to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack from some of the most aggressive members of Congress.
Such a shift receives opposition from the Biden administration.
The United States is Taiwan’s main source of arms and its strongest international backer. China however, is unhappy with these facts, although Washington has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei like most countries.
Beijing routinely denounces foreign involvement as an interference in its internal affairs. It also says the democratically ruled island is part of “one China”.
The legislation is giving priority to stability. As such, it is calling the Biden administration to report within 90 days on a whole-of-government strategy. This stresses cooperation with allies while enhancing deterrence against a cross-Strait conflict.
Bera said the US should not send a signal to Beijing that it favours the island’s independence. This is despite US concerns over Taiwan.
He said “The last thing we want is China to misinterpret the United States’ and the world’s commitment to what has worked very well in the past, the one-China policy.”
Again, such a shift meets opposition by the Biden administration. The administration is facing growing pressure on Taiwan from Beijing. However, the US will still commit to deepening its unofficial relationship with Taipei.
The Bill calls US agencies to analyze ways to help Taiwan economically and expand its development.
It also recognizes Taiwan as an important contributor to the global community. The Bill calls on the Biden administration to submit a strategy to advance Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in international organizations.
On Monday, NATO leaders, warned at a summit that China presents “systemic challenges”. As such, the leaders are taking a more forceful stance towards Beijing. US President Joe Biden encouraged this stance.
17th June 2021 23:00
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