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DEFENSE/U.S. defense spending bill authorizes training program for Taiwan

12/08/2023 05:02 PM
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An AAV-7 vehicle operates alongside some soldiers during a drill held in Kaohsiung. CNA file photo
An AAV-7 vehicle operates alongside some soldiers during a drill held in Kaohsiung. CNA file photo

Washington, Dec. 7 (CNA) The finalized draft of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the United States authorizes the U.S. secretary of defense to "establish a comprehensive training, advising, and institutional capacity building program" for Taiwan's military.

According to the NDAA draft released by the U.S. Senate and House of Representative late Wednesday night, the program is to be established by the U.S. Secretary of Defense in consultation with "appropriate officials of Taiwan" pursuant to the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act.

Overall, the compromise bill authorizes a defense budget of US$886 billion after weeks of negotiations between House and Senate leaders and now goes back to the full House and Senate for final passage before going to U.S. President Joe Biden to be signed.

The 2024 NDAA includes sections that address the delays in delivering defense articles to the U.S.' allies, including Taiwan, and several other Taiwan-related issues.

One example is Section 1306, which would not allow committing more than 85 percent of the funds available to the assistant secretary of the navy for research, development, and acquisition until a plan is submitted to provide covered Harpoon missiles to security partners.

It would also require a briefing on the status of U.S.-provided security assistance to Taiwan before the remaining funds could be released.

Taiwan has committed to purchase 400 land-based Harpoon missiles from the U.S. and hopes to start taking delivery of the missiles in 2026 and receive all 400 missiles by the end of 2028.

Notably, the finalized draft includes a new element in Section 1310 that prohibits the U.S. Department of Defense from using funds appropriated by the 2024 NDAA to support media content backed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) government.

Funds cannot be used to "knowingly provide active and direct support to any film, television, or other entertainment project" if the secretary of defense has evidence the project complied with a demand from the PRC's government to censor the project's content to advance the PRC's interests.

That prohibition may be waived, however, if the secretary of defense submits a certification to the committees on armed services of the Senate and House of Representatives that such a waiver is in the national interest of the U.S., the bill said.

Section 1518, meanwhile, requires the U.S. secretary of defense to work with Taiwanese officials on defensive military cybersecurity activities aimed at defending military networks, infrastructure and systems to counter "malicious cyber activity" aimed at military installations.

The House and Senate also reached an agreement to direct the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to submit a report to various congressional committees a comprehensive analysis of the risks and implications of a sustained military blockade of Taiwan by China.

The report shall include the method China is most likely to use to impose a blockade; an identification of indications and warnings of a potential sustained blockade of Taiwan by China; and the likely timelines associated with such indications and warnings.

It should also include an assessment of the impact of such a blockade on the ability of Taiwan to sustain its self-defense capabilities, economy, and population.

(By Sean Lin)

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