U.S. defense act backs strengthening Taiwan's combat readiness

2018/08/02 10:39:00 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
U.S. defense act backs strengthening Taiwan's combat readiness

Washington, Aug. 1 (CNA) The U.S. Senate passed an annual defense policy bill Wednesday for fiscal year 2019, which includes provisions supporting the strengthening of Taiwan's armed forces.

The National Defense Authorization Act cleared the Senate 87-10, after the House of Representatives passed the bill in identical form July 26. It will become law after being signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Section 1257 of the bill requires the secretary of defense to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan's military assets, particularly its reserves, and provide recommendations to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, readiness, and resilience of Taiwan's self-defense capability.

It also requires the secretary of defense to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees not later than one year after the date of the enactment of the law.

The report should contain a plan for the United States, including the use of appropriate security cooperation authorities, to expand senior military-to-military engagements and joint training by the United States Armed Forces with Taiwan's military, and support U.S. foreign military sales and other equipment transfers to Taiwan, particularly for developing asymmetric warfare capabilities, according to the bill.

Section 1258, meanwhile, expresses the sense of Congress that the Taiwan Relations Act and the "Six Assurances" are both cornerstones of U.S. relations with Taiwan.

It states that the United States should strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan to support the development of capable, ready and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.

The United States should strongly support the acquisition by Taiwan of defensive weapons through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and industrial cooperation, with a particular emphasis on asymmetric warfare and undersea warfare capabilities, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the bill stipulates.

It also says the United States should improve the predictability of arms sales to Taiwan by ensuring timely review of and response to requests of Taiwan for defense articles and defense services.

It recommends that the secretary of defense promote policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan, including opportunities for practical training and military exercises with Taiwan, and exchanges between senior defense officials and general officers consistent with the Taiwan Travel Act.

It also calls for an expansion of U.S.-Taiwan cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and urges the secretary of defense to consider supporting the visit of a U.S. hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual "Pacific Partnership" mission in order to improve disaster response planning and preparedness, as well as to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Y.F. Low)
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