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DEFENSE/McCaul calls on Taiwan to increase its defense budget

05/29/2024 07:18 PM
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U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul (front, left fourth) is pictured with Taiwanese lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo May 29, 2024
U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul (front, left fourth) is pictured with Taiwanese lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo May 29, 2024

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) United States Congressman Michael McCaul on Wednesday called on Taiwan to increase its defense budget, which he said is essential to protect the country from China's aggression.

While visiting the Legislature in Taipei, McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was greeted by Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang and delivered a speech.

Taiwan's security is under threat from China, which last week "sent an armada of ships and aircraft" in the proximity of Taiwan, McCaul said, referring to the military exercises staged by China around Taiwan on May 23 and 24 in response to President Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) inaugural speech on May 20.

"The United States Congress wants Taiwan to increase its defense budget, for without budget increases, Taiwan will not be able to protect democracy from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) aggression," he said.

Underlining firm U.S. support for Taiwan's security, he said the Indo-Pacific Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, which included funding to shore up Taiwan's defense, was "probably the most popular vote on the House floor."

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the act into law last month after it garnered bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.

U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul (second left) and Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (third left). CNA photo May 29, 2024
U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul (second left) and Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (third left). CNA photo May 29, 2024

Noting that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which directs the U.S. government to provide Taiwan with weapons necessary to defend itself, McCaul told Han: "Mr. Speaker, I promise you I will get those weapons to you as soon as possible."

"It is my sincere hope here today, that your parliament can come together and speak with one voice as one nation as the United States Congress did in support of Taiwan's national defense," he said.

McCaul also said he had witnessed "democracy at work" in Taiwan in the past few days.

With indirect reference to the mass protests against the "legislative reform" bills that cleared the legislative floor on Tuesday, McCaul said "peaceful protesters are making their voices heard without fear of retaliation."

"That people can gather and protest proves Taiwan is a beacon of democracy," the Texas Republican added.

That, McCaul said, is in stark contrast with communist China, which "brutally cracks down on peaceful dissent, like in Hong Kong and Tiananmen Square," which makes it an enemy of democracy.

McCaul is leading a delegation on behalf of House Speaker Mike Johnson to mark the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), whom he met on Monday.

The delegation also includes Republicans Young Kim, Joe Wilson, and Andy Barr, and Democrats Jimmy Panetta and Chrissy Houlahan.

Wednesday's visit to the Legislature was McCaul's second, following his last trip in April 2023, during which he met with Han's predecessor, You Si-kun (游錫堃) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

(By Sean Lin)

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