U.S. House passes annual defense policy bill with Taiwan provisions

The United States House of Representatives passed its annual defense policy bill on Tuesday, which includes recommendations for inviting Taiwan to the 2022 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and enhancing cooperation between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan.

The House approved its US$768 billion National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2022 in a 363-70 vote.

The bill includes provisions related to Taiwan from section 1246 to 1249, according to the text of the bill released.

Under section 1246, the bill recommends that the U.S. should continue to support the "development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," including by conducting practical training and military exercises with Taiwan.

That includes inviting Taiwan to participate in 2022's RIMPAC exercise.

RIMPAC, hosted every two years by the U.S. Pacific Fleet near Hawaii, is the world's largest international maritime military exercise. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the exercise before.

In section 1248, the bill asks the U.S. secretary of defense to perform an annual assessment of matters related to Taiwan, including intelligence matters, Taiwan's asymmetric defensive capabilities, and how defensive shortcomings or vulnerabilities of Taiwan could be mitigated through cooperation.

Section 1249, meanwhile, asks the U.S. secretary of defense to provide congressional defense committees with a briefing before Feb. 15, 2022, on the feasibility and advisability of enhanced cooperation between the National Guard and Taiwan.

The compromise bill, worked out by leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, incorporates elements of the version that passed the House in September and legislation approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee in July.

The bill will now head to the Senate where it will be voted on before being signed into law.

Asked to comment, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (???) on Wednesday thanked the U.S. congressional members for passing the annual bill that includes several Taiwan-friendly sections.

Wu added that the Taiwan government would engage in talks with their U.S. counterparts to come up with concrete projects on military and security cooperation once the bill is signed into law.

Taiwan's Defense Minister Chiu Kou-cheng (???), meanwhile, said Taiwan would study the act more closely before evaluating the feasibility of those sections that are beneficial in boosting the nation's defense capabilities.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel