Senate’s China Competition Bill Aims to Bolster U.S. Support for Taiwan - Are You in Favor?
Should the U.S. reaffirm commitments to Taiwan’s defense & call for Taiwan’s inclusion in international bodies?
What’s the story?
- The Senate is expected to pass a broad bipartisan package aimed at improving U.S. competitiveness with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) this week which includes a number of notable provisions focused on backing Taiwan against increasing efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine the sovereignty of the island nation. The CCP regards Taiwan, an independent democracy, as a rogue province and has threatened to seize it by military force if Taiwan pursues formal independence.
- The bill, known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, would reaffirm two foundational elements of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship ― the Taiwan Relations Act and the “Six Assurances.” Here’s a look at what those policies mean and other ways the bill would seek to improve U.S. relations with Taiwan:
What is the Taiwan Relations Act?
- The bill would reinforce U.S. commitments to Taiwan that were made under the Taiwan Relations Act, a bipartisan law enacted in 1979 after the U.S. broke off official relations with Taiwan due to the Carter administration establishing official diplomatic relations with the PRC.
- The Taiwan Relations Act states that efforts to determine Taiwan’s future through non-peaceful means (including boycotts or embargoes) threaten peace and security in the Western Pacific; it’s U.S. policy to maintain a capacity to resist the use of force or coercion to undermine Taiwan’s security; the U.S. will provide defensive military equipment so that Taiwan can have a sufficient self-defense capability; decisions about defending Taiwan will be made by Congress and the president; and references in U.S. law to foreign states and governments also apply to Taiwan.
- The Taiwan Relations Act doesn’t require the U.S. to defend Taiwan against an attack by the PRC but leaves open the possibility of doing so to create a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” which is intended to deter the PRC from attacking Taiwan and to deter Taiwan from taking actions that could provoke a PRC attack.
What are the “Six Assurances”?
- The Reagan administration made the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan in 1982, which have been a key element of Washington’s diplomatic stance toward Taipei (Taiwan’s capital) and Beijing in the decades since. The recently-declassified presidential memorandum and diplomatic cables stated that the U.S.:
- Has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan.
- Has not agreed to consult with the PRC on arms sales to Taiwan.
- Will not play a mediation role between Taipei and Beijing.
- Has not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act.
- Has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.
- Will not exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the PRC.
What else would the bill do?
- The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act would declare that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is a vital part of America’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
- It would urge Taiwan to increase its defense spending and emphasize a “strong U.S. commitment” to Taiwan’s implementation of its asymmetric defense strategy. The strategy focuses on the use of mobile anti-air and anti-ship missiles, electronic warfare unmanned aerial systems, sea mining capabilities, and other technologies in the event that China attempts an amphibious invasion across the Taiwan Strait.
- Additionally, it would call for the inclusion of Taiwan in international bodies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and others.
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— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: U.S.-Taiwan: iStock.com / avdeev007)