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Washington, Dec. 2 (CNA) The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which included for the first time a section on senior military exchanges with Taiwan.
The bill, which was voted through 375-34, will be forwarded to the Senate for consideration next week.
Section 1254 of the act states: "It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan that have the objective of improving military-to-military relations and defense cooperation between the United States and Taiwan."
Such a program should be conducted at least once each calendar year in both the United States and Taiwan, according to the act.
It defines "senior military exchange" as meaning "an activity, exercise, professional education event, or observation opportunity in which senior military officers and senior defense officials participate."
Although the U.S. Congress has tried to include similar provisions in the annual budget bill over the past few years, they were dropped from the final version of the bill after the executive branch stepped in, out of concerns that the move would damage U.S.-China relations.
(By Rita Cheng and Y.F. Low)