New US defense bill mentions cooperation with Taipei

World Today

The new U.S. defense policy may also impact the ‘One China’ policy. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg explains.

Washington’s new defense bill has made specific references to Taiwan. It requires the U.S. Secretary of Defense to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan’s military readiness and to submit his findings in a report to Congress within a year with specific recommendations for boosting cross-Pacific cooperation.

“Some think we have to do much more for Taiwan because we haven’t been doing enough all along,” said Douglas Paal, a former Washington envoy to Taiwan. “And there are other people who say: Taiwan should do much more about its support, and we should help them understand what they need to do in light of the much stronger China across the Taiwan Strait.”

Several previous versions of the bill irked Beijing, which said mutual trust would be seriously damaged. One of the bills openly called for American troops to join Taiwan’s annual war games, codifying the Pentagon’s otherwise unofficial support. Another sought to send an American hospital ship to Taiwan Island as a preparedness exercise while one more suggested that arms deals be negotiated case-by-case, rather than as a bundle theoretically making it tougher for Beijing to block.

“This kind of legislation often is referred to as the Christmas tree,” Paal said. “You have a tree, and then you hang your favorite ornaments on it until it’s completely decorated with everybody’s favorite issue. And then when it came out of the sausage factory – which is this process of the joint committees of the two houses slimming down the bill, there wasn’t really much of substance there.”

Paal, who has advised several past U.S. presidents on foreign policy, said the difference about this authorization – compared to past ones – isn’t the substance, but rather the sentiment behind it.

“I’ve never seen it more uniformly negative than today,” Paal said.  “There’s a lot of unhappiness with China in the Congress, institutionally among the members and among the staff.”

Christopher Yung discusses the latest on US defense budget spending

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