Republicans introduced a bill on Nov. 4 that would provide $2 billion annually to bolster deterrence efforts in Taiwan and to strengthen the island’s capacity to defend itself from aggression by mainland China.
The Taiwan Deterrence Act was introduced by Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), John Corbyn (R-Texas), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“This legislation authorizes $2 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing for Taiwan, but it is not a blank check. This funding is contingent on Taiwan’s commitment to further advance initiatives championed by President Tsai to build a credible defense.”
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, when it broke from mainland China during a civil war. The Chinese regime considers Taiwan as part of its territory, however, and has led a campaign of military intimidation against the island over the last several years.
In response, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed that Taiwan would do “whatever it takes” to defend its democracy and continued de facto independence.
“Taiwan is an important friend of the United States, and it plays a significant role in promoting democracy and countering China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific,” Romney said.
“This legislation would ensure that the United States continues to support Taiwan in its effort to counter Chinese aggression and coercion by bolstering our support of Taiwan’s defense capabilities.”
The bill would provide $2 billion annually from FY 2023-2032 for the purposes of developing asymmetric warfare capabilities to deter aggression from China and enhance Taiwan’s defense. Some of the specific capabilities mentioned in the bill include air and missile defense systems, cruise missiles, and conventional hypersonics.
In order to receive the monies, Taiwan would be required to commit matching funds, conduct joint long-range planning with the United States, and reach a formal agreement on how the money should be spent each year.
Taiwan would also be required to conduct multiple annual assessments of its forces to inform the United States of its current capabilities and any manpower or material shortages.
“As Beijing continues to pose a direct threat to our interests in the Indo-Pacific, it’s important Taiwan has the necessary tools to defend itself,” Rubio said.
The bill comes at a low point in trilateral relations between China, Taiwan, and the United States.
The same day the bill was announced, Chinese Communist Party leaders unveiled a new blacklist for supporters of Taiwan independence. China will now hold Taiwan independence backers to be criminally liable for life, subject to sanctions and barred from all contact with the mainland.
“We all bear witness as China continues to destabilize the Indo-Pacific region, and as Americans we must honor our commitments to defend our allies and diplomatic partners like Taiwan,” Cornyn said.
“This legislation will make sure the U.S. is ready and able to come to Taiwan’s aid in the event China further encroaches on their autonomy.”
The question of whether the United States would join Taiwan in a war to repel a Chinese invasion has plagued pundits and strategists alike.
Regardless, the United States does maintain a legal commitment to minimally provide Taiwan with the military capabilities needed to defend itself and its autonomy, as outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.
Taiwan also holds economic and strategic significance for the United States. It is the United States’ 10th largest trading partner, and the world’s foremost manufacturer of semiconductors, which are used to power everything from pickup trucks to advanced military equipment.
The self-governed island is also frequently championed as an emblem of democratic values, and its continued self-governance is often tied to the overall health of democracies worldwide.
“As former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, I prioritized strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance to advance the vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Hagerty said.
“A free and democratic Taiwan is critical to realizing that vision, and the United States should work with our allies and partners to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s malign behavior and aggressive threats against Taiwan.”
It is currently unclear what kind of support the Taiwan Deterrence Act has, but similar efforts earlier in the month hint that the desire for such funding to Taiwan extends beyond the co-sponsors of the bill.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), for example, on Nov. 2 introduced a similar bill, the Arm Taiwan Act, calling for $3 billion annually to build credible asymmetric capabilities in Taiwan.
“We should do everything in our power to help Taiwan urgently strengthen its defenses,” Hawley said in an associated statement.
“If China’s recent actions have shown the world anything, it’s that Beijing will stop at nothing in its quest to dominate the Indo-Pacific and then the world. We must not let them succeed.”