Washington, May 19 (CNA) The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the U.S. military budget for 2017, with an amendment that directs the U.S. secretary of defense to grant Taiwan observer status in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).
The amendment, proposed by Mark Walker, a Republican from North Carolina, "directs the Secretary of Defense to grant observer status to the military forces of Taiwan in any maritime exercise known as the Rim of the Pacific Exercise."
The amendment specified that "this section takes effect on the date of the enactment of this Act."
The RIMPAC is the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise.
Other amendments related to Taiwan include one that requires the secretary of defense to submit a report at the end of each fiscal year listing each request received from Taiwan, and each letter of offer to sell defense articles or services to Taiwan during that year.
The approved bill also states that the secretary of defense should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan with the objective of improving bilateral military relations and defense cooperation.
The bill also mentions the Taiwan Relations Act, saying it is the policy of the United States to provide Taiwan with defensive arms and to maintain the capacity of the United States "to defend against any forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan."
(By Tony Liao and Christie Chen) ENDITEM/ls