Washington, Dec. 5 (CNA) The United States Senate on Tuesday passed the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018, which includes a section reaffirming U.S. commitment to Taiwan, particularly arms sales.
The legislation was introduced in April by senators Cory Gardner and Ed Markey, chairman and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, along with senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin.
It serves as a policy framework to enhance U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific region and to demonstrate a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and the rules-based international order, according to a statement released by Gardner Wednesday.
In Section 209, the bill states that it is the policy of the U.S. to support the close economic, political and security relationship with Taiwan.
It is also the U.S. policy to enforce all existing U.S. government commitments to Taiwan, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the three U.S.-China joint communiques, and the Six Assurances agreed to by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the bill stipulates.
It further reiterates U.S. policy to counter efforts to change the status quo and to support peaceful resolution acceptable to both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
On arms sales to Taiwan, the act states that the U.S. president should conduct regular transfers of defense articles to Taiwan that are tailored to meet the existing and likely future threats from the People's Republic of China, including supporting the efforts of Taiwan to develop and integrate asymmetric capabilities, as appropriate, including mobile and cost-effective capabilities, into its military forces.
Also, the president should encourage the travel of high-level U.S. officials to Taiwan, in accordance with the Taiwan Travel Act.
In his statement, Gardner said the senators have been working on the bipartisan legislation for nearly three years and he urged "swift action in the House of Representatives to send this legislation to the president's desk to be signed into law."
Based on U.S. legislative rules, both chambers of Congress must pass a bill in identical form before it can be submitted to the president for signing.
However, with less than a month left before the 115th Congress ends Jan. 3, it is uncertain whether the bill can clear the House in time.