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The Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Congress voted on Wednesday (September 14) to pass the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, which involves the first direct military assistance to Taiwan. Agence France-Presse commented that US lawmakers have obviously gone further than the White House in helping Taiwan. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August sparked protests over a large-scale military exercise in Beijing, and the new bill once again angered Beijing.
The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 bill, passed by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, provides for nearly $4.5 billion in direct military assistance to Taiwan over the next four years. It also asked the U.S. president to impose sanctions on major Chinese financial institutions in response to any “escalation of hostilities toward Taiwan.” The bill would also give the island the status of a “major non-NATO ally”.
The proponent of the bill is the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez, who pointed out that this is the most important comprehensive reform of US policy towards Taiwan since 1979.
The AFP report analyzed that the committee’s vote is only the first step in a long legislative process, and the bill must now be passed in the full Senate, then the House of Representatives, and finally enacted by President Joe Biden. But it certainly marks at least a major de-escalation between the United States and Taiwan at a time when relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest level in decades.
So the White House is handling this very carefully. White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that she will continue to communicate directly with Congress about the text. She then said the Biden administration would “continue to deepen its partnership with Taiwan with strong diplomatic, economic and military support.”
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also responded to the “2022 Taiwan Policy Act” on Thursday, arguing that the Act seriously violates the US’s commitment to China on the Taiwan issue, violates the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiques, interferes in China‘s internal affairs, and violates the International law and basic norms of international relations send a serious wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. China firmly opposes this and has lodged solemn representations with the US. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also asked the United States to stop playing the “Taiwan card” to “use Taiwan to control China” and to stop promoting the deliberation of the relevant bill. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, depending on the progress and final outcome of the case,” he said.
The vote in the U.S. Congress comes just days after Washington sold $1.1 billion worth of weapons to Taipei, and more than a month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan sparked Beijing The fury, China then launched the largest military exercise in its history around Taiwan.
Pelosi was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in decades, and before her visit to Taiwan, White House officials had told Beijing that under a system of separation of powers, the U.S. Congress is an independent branch of the government and Pelosi is Number three in politics, but she does not represent government policy.