U.S. Congress proposes medical partnership with Taiwan

12/04/2020 03:50 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Washington, Dec. 3 (CNA) The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday said they have reached an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA FY21), which includes provisions to push for medical partnership with Taiwan.

Under the provisions agreed upon by the Armed Services Committees of both chambers, the secretary of defense should consult with the secretary of health and human services on the establishment of a medical security partnership with Taiwan, and in 180 days after the bill becomes law, the defense secretary is required to submit a report to the Committees on the feasibility of setting up such a partnership.

The feasibility report should take into account "the goals and objectives of developing a medical security partnership on issues related to pandemic preparedness and control" and "a discussion of current and future plans to cooperate on medical security activities."

The report will also include "an evaluation of the feasibility of cooperating on a range of activities under the partnership, including research and production of vaccines and medicines; joint conferences with scientists and experts; collaboration relating to and exchanges of medical supplies and equipment; and the use of hospital ships such as the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort and U.S. Naval Ship Mercy."

Meanwhile, the NDAA FY21 reconfirms the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances as the foundation of the ties between Washington and Taiwan and serve as the bedrock for both sides to "fully pursue the deepening of the extensive, close and friendly relations" and "facilitate greater cooperation and the broadening and deepening of United States-Taiwan relations."

The TRA is a U.S. domestic law that defines Washington's relations with Taipei, requiring the U.S. to make available to Taiwan "defense articles and services" to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities.

The Six Assurances, made by then-President Ronald Reagan to Taiwan in 1982, pledge not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan and not to consult with China on those arms sales.

According to the bill, with China raising its military threats and coercion acts against Taiwan, the U.S. should "continue to support the development of capable, ready and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, including supporting acquisition by Taiwan of defense articles and services through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and industrial cooperation,"

This cooperation should have "an emphasis on capabilities that support Taiwan's asymmetric defense strategy, including anti-ship, coastal defense, anti-armor, air defense, undersea warfare, advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and resilient command and control capabilities," according to the bill.

The NDAA FY 21 is pending approval by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives before being sent to the U.S. president to sign into law.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Frances Huang)

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