Sens. Rubio and Merkley Reintroduce Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) reintroduced the Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act (S.1054) on March 25, which seeks to strengthen the U.S.-Taiwan relations by, among other things, elevating the U.S. Representative to Taiwan to a Senate-confirmed position, creating an interagency Taiwan policy task force, and requiring an annual report on the Taiwan Travel Act.
If the act were passed, the status of the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) would be changed to “representative,” and its appointment would have to be approved by the Senate, as is required for all U.S. ambassadors.
The act would also require the U.S. president to establish an interagency Taiwan Policy Task Force, comprised of senior government officials who would submit an annual report to Congress detailing actions that should be taken to enhance U.S.-Taiwan relations.
In addition, the act would direct the Secretary of State to submit a report to appropriate congressional committees on the implementation of the 2018 Taiwan Travel Act, which allows high-level officials of the United States to visit Taiwan and vice versa.
Sen. Rubio said in a press release, “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill, which seeks to update U.S. policy to better reflect our core values as well as the current realities in the Indo-Pacific region.” “We must counter the Chinese Communist Party’s relentless campaign to undermine Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” he added.
Sen. Merkley, meanwhile, also called for the U.S. to keep building a robust relationship with Taiwan. “Let’s pass the Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act, so we can expand exchange programs, continue to encourage Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations, and work together to defend our businesses from the Chinese government’s coercion,” he said.
U.S. Urges China to Stop Pressuring Taiwan
On March 26, the U.S. urged China to stop pressuring Taiwan, after nearly two dozen Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that day in response to the signing of a U.S.-Taiwan agreement on coast guard cooperation. 
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan,” a State Department spokesman said. The comment came in response to the 20 Chinese bombers and jets that entered Taiwan’s ADIZ, the largest fleet deployed since Taiwan’s defense ministry began to make public Chinese warplane movements near Taiwan in mid-September last year. 
China’s show of force was an apparent reaction to Taiwan and the U.S. signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 25 to establish a Coast Guard Working Group (CGWG) to strengthen their maritime cooperation. It was the first agreement signed by the two countries since President Joe Biden took office in January. The MOU was a response to China’s new Coast Guard Law that allows the Chinese Coast Guard to fire on foreign ships in waters Beijing claims even without warning. 
Despite Washington’s urging to stop harassing Taiwan, China again sent 10 military aircraft, including fighter jets, to enter Taiwan’s ADIZ on March 29, as the U.S. Ambassador to Palau, John Hennessey-Niland, accompanied Palau’s president to visit Taiwan. The visit marks the first time a U.S. ambassador has visited Taiwan since the cutting of diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, showing that the U.S. is becoming more proactive in its policies toward Taiwan.