A bill that would commit $4.5 billion in US weapons for “defense” of Taiwan and promote Taipei’s membership in international organizations, among other things, cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday in a 17-5 vote. The Taiwan Policy Act comes after weeks of escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing that started with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The bill aims to “reinforce US policy towards Taiwan in order to maintain stable cross-Strait deterrence,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who chairs the committee, accusing China of a “campaign to undermine the status quo.”
“The most comprehensive revamp of US-Taiwan policy in more than four decades,” as Politico described it, would authorize $4.5 billion in “direct military assistance” to Taipei and “bolster Taiwan’s sovereignty” by encouraging its membership in international organizations. Menendez and its cosponsor, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, insisted this does not go against the US official policy of ‘One China.’
Menendez rejected the arguments that the bill would stoke tensions with Beijing, saying that it is instead “carefully and strategically lowering the existential threats facing Taiwan by raising the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high a risk and unachievable.”