U.S. Congress introduces two bills concerning Taiwan

10/21/2020 01:41 PM
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Photo from www.house.gov
Photo from www.house.gov

Washington, Oct. 20 (CNA) Members of the United States Congress introduced two bills concerning Taiwan on Tuesday, one of which was a bundle of acts targeting China, the other a new act titled the Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act.

The bundle, called the China Task Force Act, is an attempt by the House of Representatives' China Task Force to pass 137 different acts aimed at countering China's global influence before the end of the current meeting of Congress on Jan. 3, 2021.

Some of the 137 acts have already been passed by the House, but those that have not would be considered dead if not passed by Jan. 3, 2021, and would have to be reintroduced in the following Congress.

Seven of the acts in the bundle concern Taiwan, including two previously passed by the House -- the Taiwan Assurance Act and a bill that directs the Secretary of State to help Taiwan regain observer status in the World Health Organization.

The rest were introduced in the House earlier this year, such as the Taiwan Non-Discrimination Act and Employment Fairness for Taiwan Act, which are aimed at improving Taiwan's standing in international financial institutions and ensuring that Taiwanese nationals are not discriminated against in employment decisions at these institutions.

Also included is the Taiwan Symbols of Sovereignty Act, which would allow diplomats and members in the Taiwanese military to display the Republic of China (Taiwan) flag and wear their uniforms while in the U.S. on official businesses.

The last two are the Taiwan Fellowship Act, which would grant fellowships in Taiwan to U.S. government employees, and the Taiwan Defense Act, which requires the U.S. to maintain the ability to defeat a Chinese invasion against Taiwan.

According to the task force, which was formed in May and consists of 15 members of the Republican Party, two-thirds of the acts included in the bundle have bipartisan support, while more than a third have already been passed by either the House or the Senate.

The Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act, meanwhile, was introduced by Republican Congressman Marco Rubio and Democrat Jeff Merkley, and seeks to update U.S. policy towards Taiwan.

If the act were passed, it would change the status of the head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.

Under the act, the position of AIT director would be changed to "representative," and its appointment would have to be approved by the Senate, as is required for all U.S. ambassadors.

Marco Rubio. CNA file photo
Marco Rubio. CNA file photo

It would also require the U.S. president to establish an "inter-agency Taiwan Task Force" comprised of senior government officials who would submit an annual report to Congress detailing actions that should be taken to enhance U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Another provision would also establish a nonprofit U.S.-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Foundation, which would work with local governments and educational institutions to send American high school and university students to Taiwan to study Chinese, history and politics.

The act would also direct the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress on how the U.S. could work with the Taiwanese government to establish an alternative to China's Confucius Institutes, which offer Chinese language education courses globally.

Rubio said in a statement that the act would "update U.S. policy to better reflect the realities in the region" as well as address the threats posed to Taiwan and the U.S. by China.

(By Stacy Hsu and Chiang Yi-ching)

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