U.S. Republicans want billions for military aid from Taiwan to fight China

U.S. Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday seeking to provide $ 2 billion a year and other aid to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses as it faces growing pressure from China.

The legislation, revised by Reuters, would allow $ 2 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing – U.S. subsidies and loans that allow countries to buy weapons and defense equipment produced in the U.S. – until 2032 for the self-governing island.

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While the bill is sponsored only by Republicans, the minority party in the Senate, it adds to pressure from Congress on Democratic President Joe Biden for bolder action to strengthen ties with diplomatically isolated Taiwan.

The United States is the main military provider for the democratic island nation.

The main sponsor of the bill is Senator Jim Risch, the highest Republican in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Co-sponsors include Republican Senators Mike Crapo, John Cornyn, Bill Hagerty, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio.

It was not immediately clear how Democrats view the bill.

Support for Taiwan is a rare issue that is gaining bipartisan support in the deeply divided Senate.

The funding would come with conditions, including Taiwan’s commitment to match U.S. spending, and whether Taipei and Washington agree to do joint long-term planning for capacity development.

The United States urged Taiwan to pursue defense reforms to focus on capabilities to make its military forces more mobile and more difficult to attack, and to ensure that it maintains a strong reserve force.

The “Taiwan Discouragement Act” would also amend the existing Weapons Export Control Act, which governs foreign military sales, to make it easier for U.S. companies to sell weapons to Taiwan. It would also require an annual assessment of Taiwan’s efforts to promote a defense strategy to China.

The bill would also improve military exchanges with Taiwan and expand professional military education and technical training opportunities in the United States for Taiwanese military personnel.

“The defense of Taiwan is critical to maintaining the credibility of the United States as a defender of the democratic values ​​and free market principles embodied by the people and government of Taiwan,” the text of the bill says.

China has recently escalated military pressure, including repeated missions by Chinese warplanes near democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims is its own and has not ruled out taking by force.

Biden confirmed a “solid” commitment to Taiwan and criticized China. Beijing rebukes Washington’s policies of supporting Taiwan by selling arms and sending warships across the Taiwan Strait due to rising tensions.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Defense in its annual report to Congress on China’s military reiterated concern about growing pressure on Taiwan.

The report renewed concerns about China’s development of elections to take Taiwan, although a defense official declined to speculate to reporters on whether that scenario was likely or to say whether the department sees a near or even medium-term risk of armed conflict.

Read more: Pentagon: China’s nuclear power is growing faster than expected

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