As China continues aggressive military drills on Taiwan's doorstep, 37 House Republicans have proposed a bill that aims to bolster ties with the democratic, self-governed island in the biggest revamp of U.S.-Taiwan policy in more than four decades.
Despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent high profile to Taipei, no Democrat has signed on to the pro-Taiwan bill.
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of the China Task Force, introduced the Taiwan Policy Act, which seeks to strengthen Taiwan's defense and deter aggression from the Chinese Communist Party.
While McCaul told Newsmax he would have "strongly preferred to introduce a bill with bipartisan support," he said the "threat level for Taiwan has risen to a point" where he felt he "just couldn't wait any longer."
His proposal, which has broad Republican support, was introduced just a few weeks after a Senate version of the bill, which garnered bipartisan backing, passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
House Democrats' decision not to support McCaul's bill seems at odds with their position toward Taiwan after Pelosi, D-Calif., made a high-profile visit to Taiwan last month during which she touted "America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy."
The visit by Pelosi, second in line for the U.S. presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, outraged Beijing, prompting China to test America's dedication to the One China policy, which maintains there is one Chinese nation and Taiwan is a part of it, by launching a series of incursions that have become all but routine.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have reached their highest point in some time as Beijing seeks to normalize its military presence, repeatedly breaching Taiwan's air defense buffer zone and conducting drills near the island.
The animosity between China and Taiwan dates back to the brutal civil war that resulted in their split in 1949. Beijing has since internally viewed and officially considered Taiwan to be a rogue province, being clear about China's desire to "reunify" Taiwan with the mainland — even if force is required.
As Beijing ratchets up provocations, McCaul's proposal seeks to provide more clarity on the U.S. position regarding a possible CCP invasion of Taiwan — a bit of a departure from the "strategic ambiguity" America currently employs when it comes to the defense of the island.
Under the current stance, the U.S. leaves unanswered the question of whether it would respond militarily if the island were attacked.
"Taiwan is a critical national security partner for the United States whose democracy is under an unprecedented level of threat from the CCP," McCaul said in a statement. "Now is the time to arm our ally — before an invasion occurs, not after."
McCaul added that he is "proud to introduce this important legislation with 36 colleagues to help improve Taiwan's defense immediately."
"Deterrence is key to stopping the CCP from provoking a conflict that would seriously harm U.S. national security," he said.
The legislation has a three-pronged approach that involves modernizing the existing U.S.-Taiwan policy, updating security assistance for Taiwan, and implementing measures to counter CCP pressure:
- Referring to Taiwan as a "government" and renaming Taiwan's de facto U.S. Embassy the "Taiwan Representative Office."
- Ensuring Taiwan is able to display its national flag for government business.
- Elevating the top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan with Senate confirmation.
- Providing Taiwan with arms capable of deterring acts of aggression and enabling Taiwan to implement a strategy to deter acts of coercion or aggression.
- Authorizing up to $6.5 billion in foreign military financing over five fiscal years, as long as Taiwan increases nonpersonnel defense spending.
- Expediting foreign military sales to Taiwan.
- Authorizing a munitions stockpile, military loans, and drawdown authority for Taiwan as well as establishing joint training, planning, and exercises.
- Countering CCP influence operations and economic coercion.
- Supporting free trade with Taiwan.
While his bill currently doesn't have any endorsements from his colleagues on the other side of the political aisle, McCaul said "the door remains open for the House Democrats to work with us to make that happen."
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