China protests US move to boost military support for Taiwan

China protests US move to boost military support for Taiwan

BEIJING: China lodged “solemn representations” with the United States on Thursday after a US Senate panel advanced legislation that would enhance military support for Taiwan.

If the bill continues to go forward, it would affect US-China relations, Mao Ning, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a regular media briefing.

The US Senate’s foreign relations committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would significantly enhance military support for Taiwan, including provisions for billions of dollars in additional security assistance.

The committee backed the Taiwan Policy Act by 17-5, despite concerns about the bill in President Joe Biden’s administration and anger about the measure from Beijing.

The bill comes over one month after China conducted its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan in response to an earlier visit to the self-ruled island by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Chinese spokesman described the new legislation as sending “a serious false signal to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence”.

“China is firmly opposed to this and has made solemn representations to the US side that there is only one China in the world, that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China’s territory, and that China will unswervingly promote the complete reunification of the country,” the spokesperson said.

Bipartisan vote

The strong bipartisan vote was a clear indication of support from both Republicans and President Biden’s fellow Democrats for changes in US policy toward Taiwan, such as treating it as a major non-Nato ally.

Sponsors said the bill would be the most comprehensive restructuring of US policy toward the island since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

“We need to be clear-eyed about what we are facing,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the committee’s Democratic chairman, while stressing that the United States does not seek war or heightened tensions with Beijing.

“If we want to ensure Taiwan has a fighting chance, we must act now,” said Senator Jim Risch, the committee’s top Republican, arguing that any change in the status quo for Taiwan would have “disastrous effects” for the US economy and national security.

Taiwan’s presidential office thanked the Senate for its latest show of support, saying the bill would “help promote the Taiwan-US partnership in many ways”, including security and economic cooperation.

The bill would allocate $4.5 billion in security assistance for Taiwan over four years, and supports its participation in international organisations. The act also includes extensive language on sanctions toward China in the event of hostilities across the strait separating the mainland from Taiwan.

When the bill was introduced in June, China responded by saying it would be “compelled to take resolute countermeasures” if Washington took actions that harmed China’s interests.

“We haven’t discussed any specifics,” Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, told reporters at an event at the Capitol when asked if she has had discussions with the White House over specific sanctions.

“We talked about integrated deterrence in a broader sense of the need to explore different tools to ensure that the status quo in the Taiwan Strait can be maintained,” Hsiao said.

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