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U.S. senator reiterates need for military cooperation with Taiwan

2017/12/12 20:07:06

Image taken from Senator Tom Cotton's official Facebook page

Washington, Dec. 11 (CNA) U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) took to his website and Facebook page on Monday to urge the U.S. government to accelerate military cooperation with Taiwan in the face of threats of violence from a Chinese diplomat.

The issue can be traced back to Nov. 30 when the U.S. Congress passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which included clauses that would allow the U.S. to look at the possibility of reestablishing "regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan" and permits the U.S. Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwan vessels.

These Taiwan-related clauses did not sit well with the Chinese government, resulting in Li Kexin (李克新), a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., saying on Dec. 8 that the day a U.S. Navy vessel visits Taiwan will be the day China employs its Anti-Secession Law and unifies Taiwan with military force.

In response to this statement, Cotton wrote: "I take Beijing's threats to use military force against Taiwan seriously ... We can't afford to take Beijing's saber-rattling lightly."

He urged U.S. President Donald Trump and Congress "to accelerate the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan, as well as to bring Taiwan into joint military exercises with the United States."

The 40-year-old senator is a long-time supporter of improved Taiwan-U.S. ties.

Cotton and fellow Republican Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced the Taiwan Security Act to the Senate in July.

The bill was drafted to "enhance the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and bolster Taiwan's participation in the international community," according to a press statement on Cotton's official website.

Cotton is not the only U.S. voice advocating deeper exchanges, particularly military ones, between Taiwan and the U.S.

Randall Schriver, president and CEO of U.S. think tank Project 2049 Institute, and Trump's nominee for assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said earlier this month that he was in favor of mutual visits by U.S. and Taiwan's navies.

According to Schriver, such visits would not contravene the one-China Policy.

(By Kuan-lin Liu and Rita Cheng)