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Taiwan thanks U.S. for defense bill signing

2018/08/14 19:14:51

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)

Taipei, Aug. 14 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taiwan's defense authorities have expressed gratitude to the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump signed the national defense authorization for fiscal 2019 Monday, which includes provisions supporting the strengthening of Taiwan's armed forces.

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-ji (陳中吉) said in a statement Tuesday that Taiwan thanks the U.S. president, administration and congress for the support for Taiwan in its long- term devotion to regional peace and stability.

Taiwan is also grateful that the U.S. has offered to enhance arms sales and military exchanges in the future, Chen said.

Meanwhile, Tsai, who is on a trip to Taiwanese allies Paraguay and Belize, gave her thanks for the U.S. support during meetings with American politicians in Los Angeles Monday local time, when she made a transit stop en route to Paraguay.

Tsai departed Los Angeles later that day. On the presidential plane, Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, briefed the press on the president's remarks in talks with U.S. congressmen.

Tsai Ming-yen, quoting the president, said Taiwan will take the initiative to upgrade its defense capability, in addition to strengthening defense cooperation with the U.S.

The president also said that Taiwan will continue to increase its defense budget. In terms of major arms procurement deals, Taiwan will accomplish them with a special budget, Tsai Ming-yen said.

Trump signed into law the defense policy bill, which authorizes US$716 billion in total military spending for the coming fiscal year, at the Army's Fort Drum post in New York Monday.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, named in honor of the senator who is battling brain cancer, includes two provisions involving Taiwan.

Section 1257 requires the secretary of defense, in consultation with appropriate counterparts in Taiwan, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan's military forces, particularly its reserves, and submit to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment report within a year of the act's enactment.

In Section 1258, Congress details seven points in support of the idea of helping to strengthen Taiwan's combat readiness, including reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as cornerstones of U.S. relations with Taiwan.

The John S. McCain Act also includes that the United States should strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan; support Taiwan's acquisition of defensive weapons through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and industrial cooperation; and 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.

The secretary of defense should promote Department of Defense policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan; the U.S. and Taiwan should expand cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; and the secretary of defense should 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.

In a statement released by the White House after the signing of the defense policy bill, Trump noted that some provisions of the bill, including Section 1257, were proposed to dictate the position of the United States on external military and foreign affairs.

"My Administration will treat these provisions consistent with the President's exclusive constitutional authorities as Commander in Chief and as the sole representative of the Nation in foreign affairs, including the authorities to determine the terms upon which recognition is given to foreign sovereigns, to receive foreign representatives, and to conduct the Nation's diplomacy," the statement said.

(By Yu Kai-hsiang, Rita Cheng and Elizabeth Hsu)
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