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US Senators Introduce Bill to Bolster Taiwan’s Defense in Face of Beijing Aggression

Juliet Wei
Juliet Wei covers China news and U.S.-China relations and has worked as a correspondent with Senate and House Correspondent Credential at Washington DC. She holds an M.A. in Specialized Journalism from the University of Southern California.
Published: November 5, 2021
2019-11-12-James Risch
Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Image: Juliet Wei/Vision Times)

On Thursday, Nov. 4, a group of U.S. senators led by Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Taiwan Deterrence Act legislation to bolster deterrence across the Taiwan Strait and strengthen Taiwan’s ability to defend against aggression and coercion from the communist regime in mainland China. 

This legislation authorizes $2 billion a year in foreign military financing for Taiwan, which has seen heightened military provocations from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in recent years. 

Other cosponsoring senators include Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

As stated by Sen. Risch, “This funding is contingent on Taiwan’s commitment to further advance initiatives championed by President Tsai to build a credible defense. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress, the executive branch, and Taiwan on our shared vital interests in the Indo-Pacific.”

“China’s increasing efforts to militarily overwhelm Taiwan is a threat to international diplomacy and regional security,” Sen. Crapo said. “It is imperative to get asymmetric capabilities, training and readiness resources to Taiwan quickly so it can protect itself from China’s encroaching aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Sen. Bill Hagerty, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, stressed the importance of Taiwan from the perspective of the U.S-Japan alliance: “A free and democratic Taiwan is critical to realizing that vision, and the United States should work with our allies and partners to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s malign behavior and aggressive threats against Taiwan.”

Senator Rubio said, “As Beijing continues to pose a direct threat to our interests in the Indo-Pacific, it’s important Taiwan has the necessary tools to defend itself,” 

The proposed Taiwan Deterrence Act includes authorization of $2 billion a year for Taiwan in foreign military financing, subject to Taiwan meeting certain conditions. It would also amend the Arms Export Control Act to better facilitate arms transfers to Taiwan, as well as require an annual assessment on Taiwan’s efforts to advance a credible defense strategy vis-à-vis mainland China.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that Taiwan is a rightful part of its communist People’s Republic and does not rule out the use of force to achieve unification. Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), which used to govern all of China before the communists conquered the mainland.

In early October during the CCP’s 72nd-anniversary National Day celebrations, the PLA sent 150 combat into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone over a period of four days, the biggest such provocation since Beijing began making such shows of force in recent years.

At the ASEAN Summit, President Biden reiterated the United States’ “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan and criticized Beijing for undermining regional stability. The mainland side accused Washington of exacerbating tensions by supporting Taiwan through arms sales and sending warships through the Taiwan Strait.

On Nov. 3, the Pentagon released its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” The report emphasized that Beijing had never given up its option to attack Taiwan by force.

The report summarizes several options for a PLA assault on Taiwan, including an air and sea blockade and an amphibious invasion of Taiwan. The ROC armed forces are actively developing capabilities to strengthen its defense and turn the island into a “sea fortress.”

On Nov. 2, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley introduced the Arm Taiwan Act of 2021, which would require the Secretary of Defense to plan a Taiwan Security Assistance Initiative (TSI) and authorize $3 billion per year for fiscal years 2023 through 2027.