0623: Taiwan Policy Act of 2022; Annual Defense Bill (NDAA) with New Pro-Taiwan Provisions

Senators Menendez, Graham Introduce Comprehensive “Taiwan Policy Act of 2022” to Overhaul U.S.-Taiwan Policy and Counter China’s Threats Against Taiwan

On June 16, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan “Taiwan Policy Act of 2022” (S.4428) to significantly expand U.S. efforts to promote the security of Taiwan, ensure regional stability, and deter China’s increasing aggression against Taiwan.

The new legislation “represents the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy towards Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979,” according to a statement issued by Chairman Menendez.

Specifically, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 would create “a new initiative to bolster Taiwan’s defense capabilities, providing almost $4.5 billion in security assistance over the next four years.” 

The bill also “bolsters support for Taiwan’s democratic government; provides additional support for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and in multilateral trade architecture; takes concrete steps to counter PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] aggressive coercion and influence campaigns; creates a Taiwan Fellowship Program; and designates Taiwan as a Major Non-NATO Ally.”

“Under U.S. law, a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status designation is a powerful symbol that provides our closest global partners with additional benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation,” the statement explained.

Moreover, the bill, among other things, also affirms the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances as the cornerstones of U.S.-Taiwan relations; calls for renaming the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO); and requires Senate confirmation of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director.

“As Beijing continues to seek to coerce and isolate Taiwan there should be no doubt or ambiguity about the depth and strength of our determination to stand with the people of Taiwan and their democracy,” Menendez said. 

“The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 represents a seminal statement of the United States’ absolute commitment to stand with Taiwan and all those who share our interests and our values in the Indo-Pacific in the face of Beijing’s military, economic, and diplomatic threats and bullying,” he added.

The bill sent a clear message to China not to make the same mistakes with Taiwan that Russia has made in invading Ukraine, Menendez said.

“When it comes to Taiwan, our response should be that we are for democracy and against communist aggression,” Senator Graham said.

“We live in dangerous times. China is sizing up America and our commitment to Taiwan. The danger will only grow worse if we show weakness in the face of Chinese threats and aggression toward Taiwan,” Graham added.

On June 17, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the senators for introducing this “flagship” legislation.

The bill, sponsored by heavyweights of both major U.S. parties, demonstrated that support for Taiwan has, at least in the U.S. Congress, superseded party lines, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou said.

(A copy of the “Taiwan Policy Act of 2022” can be found HERE. Click HERE for a section-by-section summary of the legislation)

[1] Senate Foreign Relations Committee: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/chair/release/menendez-graham-introduce-comprehensive_legislation-to-overhaul-us-taiwan-policy
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202206170013
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/06/18/2003780073

U.S. Congress Pushes for Stronger Defense Engagement with Taiwan in Annual Defense Bill

Both houses of the U.S. Congress have made progress on their respective drafts of an annual defense policy bill — the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — that both contain provisions to strengthen U.S. defense-related engagement with Taiwan.

On June 16, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a draft version of the NDAA for fiscal year 2023 in a bipartisan 23-3 vote, and sent it to the full Senate for consideration.

According to a summary released by the committee, the draft bill would require U.S. engagement with Taiwanese officials “to develop and implement a multiyear plan” to provide for “the acquisition of appropriate defensive capabilities by Taiwan” and to engage with Taiwan “in a series of combined trainings, exercises, and planning activities.”

The U.S.’ policy will be to maintain its armed forces “to deny a fait accompli against Taiwan,” to deter China from using military force to unilaterally change the “status quo” with Taiwan, the committee said in the summary.

Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee on June 20 released the full text and a summary of its draft version of the FY 2023 NDAA, which was approved by the committee by a bipartisan 57-1 vote on early June 23, and now heads to the House floor.

In its current form, the House’s draft bill expanded the “sense of Congress” section on U.S.-Taiwan defense relations from the final version of the NDAA that was signed into law last year.

While the FY 2022 NDAA commits to supporting Taiwan’s acquisition of defense articles with an emphasis on asymmetric capabilities, this year’s draft specifies that this might include “anti-ship, coastal defense, anti-armor, air defense [and] undersea warfare” capabilities.

The section also contains a new phrase that says the U.S. should be “committed to the defense of a free and open society in the face of aggressive efforts by [China] to curtail or influence the free exercise of rights or democratic franchise.”

Typically, both houses of Congress would pass their own versions of the NDAA and negotiate a reconciliation of the bill to be signed into law — a process that in 2022 was not completed until December.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202206210015
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/06/22/2003780312