U.S. Senate passes annual defense bill with Taiwan provisions
Taipei, Dec. 16 (CNA) The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2023, incorporating several Taiwan-related provisions such as annual grants of up to US$2 billion for military-related purposes between 2023 and 2027.
The US$858 billion act, passed by the Senate in an 83-11 vote, will now be sent to U.S. President Joe Biden for his approval.
In addition to grants to purchase U.S. weapons through the Foreign Military Financing Program, the NDAA also authorizes annual loans to Taiwan of up to NT$2 billion between 2023 and 2027 to acquire hardware under the same scheme.
However, grants and loans will still need to be proposed through appropriation bills and approved by the U.S. Congress before Taiwan can receive them.
The Senate also approved the inclusion of a nonbinding "sense of Congress" provision stating Taiwan's naval forces should participate in the Rim of the Pacific exercise, as appropriate, in 2024.
Outside of financing, the act greenlights the requisition of defense articles or services from U.S. Department of Defense stockpiles by Taiwan to the tune of US$1 billion annually.
The act also authorizes establishing a regional contingency stockpile for Taiwan using excess defense articles, giving Taiwan the status of NATO allies, major non-NATO allies, and the Philippines.
The act mandates that the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) shall prioritize and expedite the processing of requests from Taiwan under the Foreign Military Sales program and may not delay the processing of requests for bundling purposes.
The act includes a section that requires the DOS and the DOD to "establish or expand a comprehensive training program with Taiwan designed to enhance interoperability and capabilities for joint operations between the US and Taiwan and to improve Taiwan's defense capabilities."
It also contains a section stating that no later than 180 days after the enactment of the act, the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State, after consulting with the Director of National Intelligence, shall engage for the purposes of establishing a joint consultative mechanism with appropriate officials of Taiwan to develop and implement a multiyear plan to provide for the acquisition of defensive capabilities by Taiwan.
In addition, the act compels U.S. officials to engage in discussions with Taiwan regarding a series of combined training, exercises, and planning activities consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, thereby helping Taiwan respond effectively to aggression by the People's Liberation Army or other actors from China.
In a statement issued on Friday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) thanked the U.S. Congress for its strong support by pushing a bill that facilitates Taiwan's efforts to bolster its military's capabilities and combat readiness and ensures a free, open, and stable Indo-Pacific region.
The MND said it would continue monitoring the activity of hostile forces and make defense preparations accordingly with clear priorities, thereby ensuring the nation's safety.
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