1222: U.S. Funding Bill Provides No Military Grant to Taiwan; Rep. Curtis’s Delegation to Taiwan; EU-Taiwan Investment Agreement Urged

U.S. Funding Bill Provides Military Loans, Not Grants, to Taiwan

A U.S. government funding bill for next year authorized US$2 billion in loans to Taiwan to buy weapons from the U.S., but did not include grants for similar purposes that had been approved in a separate annual defense bill.

The “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023,” released by the Senate on December 20, allowed up to US$2 billion in direct loans to Taiwan under the “Foreign Military Financing Program,” and provided funds for the Taiwan Fellowship Program.

That was consistent with provisions in the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” (FY 2023 NDAA) that was passed earlier this month by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

But the appropriations bill, which is still being negotiated by U.S. lawmakers, left out a provision in the NDAA that called for providing up to US$2 billion in annual grants from 2023 to 2027 for Taiwan for military-related purposes amid military pressure from China.

The grants were part of the “Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act,” that was folded into the FY 2023 NDAA.

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“I remain disappointed that the Biden administration refuses to comply with congressional inquiries regarding Taiwan’s military needs and refuses to request money to implement the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act,” Inhofe said in a statement.

According to Defense News, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and James Risch (R-ID), were pushing for up to US$500 million in grants while Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) advocated loans only.

Despite passage of the NDAA, grants and loans must still be proposed through appropriation bills and approved by the U.S. Congress before Taiwan can receive them.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/12/22/2003791156
[2] Defense News: https://www.defensenews.com/congress/budget/2022/12/15/congress-clashes-on-loans-vs-grants-for-taiwan-military-aid/

Rep. Curtis Leads Congressional Delegation to Taiwan

On December 20, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen welcomed a group of visiting U.S. lawmakers led by Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), who said the visit of his delegation was a testament to the U.S. Congress’ strong support for Taiwan.

The Congressional delegation led by Curtis and including U.S. Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Burgess Owens (R-UT) and Michelle Steel (R-CA) is visiting Taiwan from December 17 to 22.

The group’s visit meant that 36 U.S. representatives and senators have visited Taiwan this year, reflecting strong bipartisan support for Taiwan, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said.

During their meeting with President Tsai, Rep. Curtis, who lived in Taiwan in 1979 and 1980 as a missionary, told the president that he has since then witnessed Taiwan’s dramatic change into a vibrant democracy.

“I arrived just after the end of the defense treaty [with Taiwan] and the switch of diplomatic recognition [to the People’s of Republic of China] and the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act,” he said.

He said that although it was a difficult time for Taiwan, he appreciated how warmly he was welcomed by the Taiwanese people during those years when he lived in Taiwan.

The delegation’s visit was to serve as a testament of the strong support for Taiwan in the U.S. Congress, Curtis said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202212200005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/12/21/2003791090

Visiting European Parliament Group Calls for EU-Taiwan Investment Agreement

The head of a visiting European Parliament (EP) delegation, the vice chair of the EP’s International Trade Committee Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, has expressed the group’s support for taking steps toward a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) between the European Union (EU) and Taiwan.

In a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on December 20, Asimakopoulou said the EU recognized its trade and investment partnership with Taiwan as a “strategic relationship with geopolitical implications.”

She reiterated the European Parliament’s call to the EU to begin discussions on a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan.

Asimakopoulou added that the EU and Taiwan are like-minded partners, with their friendship built on the common values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.

It is in that spirit that her delegation thanked Taiwan for supporting the EU’s ongoing efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion, she said.

She reiterated the EU’s stance that the status quo in the Taiwan Strait “cannot be changed unilaterally” as it opposes “the use or threat of force or economic coercion against Taiwan from China.”

President Tsai, meanwhile, welcomed the 13-member delegation, the first official visit to Taiwan by a delegation representing the EP’s International Trade Committee.

Tsai also thanked the European Parliament and its various committees for passing more than 10 resolutions in support of Taiwan this year, including measures backing Taiwan’s international participation and calling for peace and security across the Taiwan Strait.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202212200005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/12/21/2003791090