U.S. bill aimed at countering China aggression clears committee stage

04/22/2021 01:36 AM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Washington, April 21 (CNA) A draft bill that seeks to boost the United States' capability to counter China's aggression on the international stage, including its belligerence against Taiwan, cleared the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday (U.S. time).

Titled the "Strategic Competition Act of 2021," the draft bill was passed by an overwhelming vote of 21 to 1. It calls for the U.S. to reassert its leadership within international organizations and other multilateral arenas and to bolster its diplomacy strategy to address the challenges posed by the Chinese government.

After clearing the committee, the draft bill will be sent to the Senate chamber for further debate. According to information released on the Congress' website on April 15, the bipartisan bill addresses abuses in Xinjiang such as forced labor and forced sterilization and focuses on confronting China over its "predatory international economic behavior."

It calls for "enhanced coordination and cooperation with allies on arms control in the face of China's military modernization and expansion, and requires reporting on Chinese ballistic, hypersonic glide, and cruise missiles, conventional forces, nuclear, space, cyberspace and other strategic domains."

The draft bill was introduced April 8 by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and Ranking Member Jim Risch.

Menendez said the bill is an "unprecedented bipartisan effort to mobilize all U.S. strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that will allow our nation to truly confront the challenges China poses to our national and economic security."

If the bill is passed by the U.S. Congress, it will allow for an allocation of US$655 million to foreign military forces in the Indo-Pacific region and US$450 million to the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative to ensure that the U.S. and its partners can operate freely in the region and address any threats that may arise.

The programs and allocations listed in the draft legislation also include US$75 million for an 'Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network' in the Indo-Pacific as a counterweight to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

On the Taiwan issue, the 281-page bill says it is "a vital part of the United States Indo-Pacific strategy" and there should be no restrictions on American officials' interaction with their Taiwanese counterparts.

The U.S. State Department and other government agencies should engage with the Taiwanese government "on the same basis, and using the same nomenclature and protocol" as it does with other foreign governments, the bill states.

In terms of military strategy, it asks Washington to help Taiwan execute its asymmetric defense strategy, urges the island to increase its defense spending, and advises regular U.S. transfers of a range of defensive weaponry and military technologies to Taiwan.

It also reiterates the U.S.' support for Taiwan's "meaningful participation in the United Nations system" and other global organizations, including the World Health Assembly, International Civil Aviation Organization, and International Criminal Police Organization.

(By Stacy Hsu and Joseph Yeh)

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