Taiwan Bills in the Congress

117th Congress, 2021 – 2022

The Taiwan Policy Act would significantly expand U.S. efforts to promote Taiwan’s security, including provisions for billions of dollars in security assistance, as China expands its military campaign and aggression against Taiwan to undermine the status quo.

This 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 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez.

The committee advanced the bill by a vote of 17-5 on September 14, 2022, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill, among other things, would:

  • Provide Taiwan billions of dollars (up to US$6.5 billion) in security assistance to purchase U.S. arms.
  • Treat Taiwan as a “Major Non-NATO Ally” (MNNA) of the U.S. for purposes of arms transfers to Taiwan – a status held by Israel, Japan and South Korea, among other nations.
  • Recommend de facto diplomatic treatment to Taiwan – e.g., recommend changing the name of “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO), and stop referring to the “Government of Taiwan” as the ‘‘Taiwan authorities.’’
  • Expedite U.S. arms sales to Taiwan while boosting military cooperation.
  • Sanction against China’s top political leadership and financial institutions involved in hostile actions against Taiwan.
  • Provide additional support for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and in multilateral trade architecture.
  • Create a Taiwan Fellowship Program.

The Act will track transfers and expedite deliveries of U.S. arms sold to Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies, amid growing Chinese aggression in the region.

“This bill would reaffirm the commitment of Congress to American allies, increase transparency of ongoing efforts to uphold security agreements and identify solutions to address delivery time lags,” according to a press statement from Rep. Young Kim (R-CA).

The bill would strengthen U.S. support for Taiwan and provide it with the tools it needs to protect itself from any unwarranted attack.

According to Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) press statement, the bill would “assess opportunities to deliver lethal aid to Taiwan, enhance Taiwan’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and increase needed prepositioned stocks in the region.”

S.812

H.R.1145

This bill directs the U.S. Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The bill aims at fast-tracking the transfer of U.S. weapon systems to Taiwan and strengthening joint military training to make sure Taiwan can defend itself in case of a Chinese invasion.

In a statement, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he proposed the bill because what happened in Ukraine will not be the last time an authoritarian regime invades its neighbor.

“An invasion of Taiwan could happen within this decade. Taiwan needs our support,” Rubio said, adding that the bill he introduced “will make [Chinese President] Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party think twice before launching a foolish invasion.”

The U.S. Senate on March 28, 2022, passed the bill, which includes provisions to enhance military, cultural, and de facto diplomatic ties with Taiwan, by a 68-28 margin after the House of Representatives passed the Act by a 222-210 vote on February 4, 2022.

However, with respect to Taiwan-related provisions, there are key differences in the House and Senate bills, which now go to conference to reconcile the differences.

The House bill, for instance, calls for negotiations on renaming Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the U.S. from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO), while the Senate version does not.

FAPA believes that the time for renaming TECRO to TRO has come. Such a new name will lend more dignity and respect to the 23 million people of U.S. long-time and democratic ally Taiwan. Moreover, if a “Taiwan Representative Office” could sit in Washington D.C., it could engage other allies to join the U.S. effort and make “Taiwan” offices “a new normal” across the world.

On March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law a sweeping US$1.5 trillion spending bill that includes a ban on the use of any maps that “inaccurately” depict Taiwan as part of China by the U.S. State Department and its foreign operations.

The ban, contained in the State and Foreign Operations bill, which was part of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022,” stipulates that “None of the funds made available by this Act should be used to create, procure, or display any map that inaccurately depicts the territory and social and economic system of Taiwan and the islands or island groups administered by Taiwan authorities.”

The ban on funding inaccurate Taiwan maps was originally proposed in July 2021 by various lawmakers led by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI).

This bill requires devastating financial sanctions against China should it invade, blockade, or enact regime change in Taiwan through the use of force.

If China’s government makes such an attempt, the bill requires certain actions, including (1) the imposition of sanctions against Chinese nationals, citizens, and entities that participate in the attempt; and (2) a prohibition against trading in the securities of Chinese entities on national securities exchanges.

Senate: S.3573

House: H.R.6578

This bill requires the Department of State to seek to enter into negotiations with the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to rename its office in Washington, DC, the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO).

“I can think of no better way to recognize Taiwan’s contributions to global stability than by renaming their office in Washington, D.C., the seat of American democracy, to better reflect its actual purpose,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.

“It is long overdue to correctly recognize the de facto embassy of our longtime friend and ally, Taiwan, as the Taiwan Representative Office,” Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) said. “We shouldn’t tolerate pressure from China to undermine the sovereignty of the Taiwanese people, which China is also attempting to do by pressuring Lithuania and other countries.”

Senate: S.3526

House: H.R.6484

The “Sanctions Targeting Aggressors of Neighboring Democracies (STAND) with Taiwan Act of 2022” would impose crippling, comprehensive economic and financial sanctions if China initiates a military invasion of democratic Taiwan.

The STAND with Taiwan Act “is a simple bill, but a very powerful one, especially in terms of its deterrent effect.” “It states that if the Chinese Communist Party initiates a military invasion of Taiwan, the United States shall impose a comprehensive suite of mandatory economic and financial sanctions,” and the bill “also calls on the United States to coordinate such comprehensive sanctions with our allies around the globe,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said.

Senate: S.3131

House: H.R.6443

This bill requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish the “Taiwan Security Assistance Initiative” to accelerate Taiwan’s deployment of asymmetric defense capabilities to the level required to deter or defeat an invasion by China.

From FY2023 through FY2027, the bill requires DOD to use appropriations provided for the initiative to provide assistance to accelerate Taiwan’s asymmetric defense capabilities so that Taiwan, with limited initial U.S. Armed Forces support, is able to (1) delay, degrade, and deny attempts by China’s army to enter or transit the Taiwan Strait (and adjoining seas) or seize control of key territory in Taiwan; and (2) prevent China from neutralizing or rendering ineffective Taiwan’s government.

The bill imposes certain requirements related to such assistance, such as periodic certifications by DOD to Congress that Taiwan’s government has committed to (and has made progress toward) increasing defense spending, including a target of spending at least 3% of Taiwan’s national gross domestic product on defense on an annual basis by the end of FY2027.

This bipartisan legislation aims at reducing the risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait by supporting dialogues to mitigate misunderstandings and promote transparency.

The proposed legislation would authorize no less than 2 million in funds annually from 2022 through 2025 to support strategic dialogues facilitated by independent non-profit organizations in which participants meet to discuss cross-Taiwan Strait stability issues.

The bill would also allow the U.S. to provide annual funding of 6 million between 2022 and 2025 to the multilateral “Global Cooperation and Training Framework” (GCTF), a platform for Taiwan to share its expertise on issues with international partners.

Senate: S.2395

House: H.R.4560

The Taiwan Partnership Act would establish the sense of Congress that the United States should continue to support the development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces for Taiwan to maintain its self-defense by:

  • Developing a partnership program between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan;
  • Increasing exchanges between senior defense officials and general officers of the U.S. and Taiwan to improve interoperability, improve Taiwan’s reserve forces, and expand humanitarian and disaster relief cooperation;
  • Expanding Taiwan’s capability to conduct security activities, including traditional combatant commands, cooperation with the National Guard, and multilateral activities;
  • And requiring an annual report by the Secretary of Defense on the cooperation between the National Guard and Taiwan.

Senate: S.2073

House: H.R.3934

The bill would make a clear statement of policy on U.S. defense policy towards Taiwan: “it shall be the policy of the United States to maintain the ability of the United States Armed Forces to deny a fait accompli by the People’s Republic of China against Taiwan.”

The Act will adjust three elements of U.S. policy towards Taiwan to lend more dignity and respect to the 23 million people of U.S. long-time ally Taiwan:

  • It renames Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States from Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) to Taiwan Representative Office (TRO).
  • It requires the President of the United States to appoint the Director of the “American Institute in Taiwan” with the advice and consent of the Senate.
  • It creates a new visa category only for Taiwanese officials in the United States.

The bill’s main purpose is to strengthen U.S. ability in technology and strategic competition against China. It also contains multiple pro-Taiwan provisions:

  • Enhancing the United States-Taiwan partnership: Support for Taiwan’s defense, Taiwan’s role in the US approach to Indo-Pacific, and US-Taiwan bilateral trade agreement.
  • Taiwan Fellowship Act: create a civil servant training and cooperative initiative between Taiwan and the U.S.
  • Diplomatic and economic efforts to deter PRC use of force against Taiwan: counter China’s use of force against Taiwan with “significant economic and diplomatic measures.”

FAPA urges the following change to the bill:

  • Strike out “the three joint communiques” from key elements to guide the U.S. commitments to Taiwan.
  • Add Treatment of Taiwan Government (Section 3215 of S.1260) to EAGLE Act, which would end the outdated practice of referring to the government in Taiwan as the ‘Taiwan authorities and instead acknowledge the “democratically elected government of Taiwan as the legitimate representative of the people of Taiwan.”

While aiming to boost the U.S. capability to counter China’s growing aggression on the international stage, the S.1169 also has several pro-Taiwan provisions:

  • Recognizes Taiwan as “a vital part of the United States Indo-Pacific strategy.”
  • Calls to reinforce commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and Six Assurances, including helping Taiwan execute asymmetric defense strategy and conducting regular arms sales to Taiwan.
  • Require the State Department and other government agencies to engage with the government of Taiwan as the U.S. Government does with other foreign governments.

Several amendments also made it into the bill, including:

  • Taiwan Fellowship Act: Create a civil servant training and cooperation initiative between Taiwan and the U.S.
  • Reassurance for Official Contacts Act: Allow Taiwanese diplomats and service members to display their flag and wear their uniforms while on official business in the United States.
 
Highlights the increasing Chinese threat to a free and open Indo-Pacific, including the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to unilaterally annex Taiwan through non-peaceful means and its attempts at undermining Taiwan’s vibrant democratic institutions. The bill requires the Executive Branch to take the following actions: 
  • Create an Interagency Taiwan Policy Task Force;
  • Require Senate confirmation for the Director of the American Institute in Taiwan;
  • Establish the US-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Foundation;
  • Include Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral military training exercises;
  • Develop strategies to counter CCP’s sharp power against Taiwan;
  • Negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan.
If passed, the bill will prohibit the administration from reinstating 2015 Taiwan policy guidelines that prohibited the display of the Taiwanese flag by their service members and diplomats. 

The support for defense cooperation with Taiwan is critical to the national security of the United States, the bill, if enacted into law, would include Taiwan into the so-called “NATO Plus” group, which currently includes Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, and New Zealand. 

The members of “NATO Plus” group are drawn from the 17 countries that have been designated under U.S. law as “major non-NATO allies” (MNNA), which are eligible for a range of defense-related privileges with the United States. Taiwan has been treated as a major non-NATO ally under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2003 (Pub. L. 107–228), although it is not formally designated as such.

The Taiwan PLUS Act would improve Taiwan’s military capabilities against China and treat Taiwan as a country in all relevant laws and regulations for a five-year period. Every five years, the Secretary of State would have the authority to extend the measure if it is found to serve the U.S. national security interest.

H.R.3084

S.811

If passed, the Taiwan Fellowship Act will allow 10 U.S. federal government employees each year to

  • Work with their Taiwanese counterparts that most relevant to their home agencies.
  • Receive one year of intensive Mandarin language training. 

As U.S.-Taiwan high-level exchanges are rather limited, we consider the working-level exchanges is extremely conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries.

If this legislation becomes law, Taiwan would be only the second country in the world to enjoy such a cooperative partnership program with the United States. Therefore, we feel that this bill is very much complementary to the Taiwan Travel Act which FAPA successfully promoted.

The concurrent resolution calls for the U.S. to resume normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, negotiate a U.S.-Taiwan bilateral free trade agreement, and support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations.

Senate: S.332

House: H.R.1173

Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act seeks to protect Taiwan from China’s growing aggression by strengthening Taiwan’s self-defense capability, enhancing the U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation, and authorizing the President to use military to quickly respond and repel a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.