Washington, Sept. 25 (CNA) The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act aimed at supporting Taiwan's international presence.
The act, authored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner and sponsored by Democratic Senator Chris Coons, was introduced in May to express U.S. support for Taiwan's diplomatic alliances around the world.
During deliberation over the bipartisan legislation, Gardner mentioned that China's bullying constitutes a "significant threat" to Taiwan's democracy, as shown in the recent shift of allegiance from Taipei to Beijing by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
Gardner said that the U.S. has been standing with Taiwan for a long time and that Congress has passed several bills that support Taiwan, such as the Taiwan Travel Act of March 2018.
He also expressed concern about Taiwan's future without assistance from the U.S., citing what is happening in Hong Kong as an example.
The bill authorizes the U.S. secretary of state to consider modification of U.S. diplomatic presence in nations that take action to downgrade official or unofficial ties with Taiwan.
It further directs the U.S. government to advocate Taiwan's membership in international organizations in which statehood is not required and to speak for Taiwan's observer status in other international organizations.
Amendments proposed by Gardner to ask the U.S. administration to immediately begin negotiations on a mutually beneficial U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement were also approved Wednesday.
Gardner told CNA Tuesday that the bill has the support of the U.S. administration.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's Presidential Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the committee for its concrete support in a year when the two sides are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act, signed by then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1979 as a legal basis for U.S. relations with Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.