China lodges complaint as US Senate panel advances Taiwan Bill

China lodges complaint as US Senate panel advances Taiwan Bill

BEIJING: China said on Thursday (Sep 15) that it had lodged “solemn representations” with the United States, after a US Senate panel advanced legislation that would enhance US military support for Taiwan.

If the Bill continues to go forward, it would affect US-China relations, Mao Ning, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a regular media briefing.

Mao also described the new US legislation as sending “a serious false signal to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence”.

“China is firmly opposed to this and has made solemn representations to the US side that there is only one China in the world, that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China’s territory, and that China will unswervingly promote the complete reunification of the country”, the spokesperson said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 by 17-5, despite concerns about the Bill in US President Joe Biden’s administration and anger about the measure from Beijing.

The US United States has for decades sold weapons to Taiwan but the new legislation will go further by providing US security assistance to the tune of US$4.5 billion over four years.

It also lays out sanctions on China should it use force to try to seize the island.

Under the Act, Washington will still not diplomatically recognise Taiwan.

But the new law would shed many of the runarounds and codewords that have been in place so as not to anger China by implying recognition.

The de facto US embassy – now officially the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office – would be renamed the Taiwan Representative Office and the US government would be instructed to interact with Taiwan as it would with any government.

The top US envoy in Taipei, now called the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, would be renamed the “representative” of the office and need confirmation by the Senate, as would a US ambassador.

The Act would also designate Taiwan a “major non-NATO ally,” a status for the closest US military partners outside of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

And in a reflection of changing dynamics since the landmark 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the Bill says the United States will provide weapons “conducive to deterring acts of aggression” by China rather than simply “defensive” weapons.

In addition to the US$4.5 billion in funding to Taiwan, the Act would authorise US$2 billion in loan guarantees for Taiwan to buy US weapons.

The Bill comes more than one month after China conducted its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan in response to an earlier visit to the self-ruled island by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It still must clear the full Senate and House. The White House has not said whether President Joe Biden will sign the Bill, although the strong support it has may mean Congress could override any potential veto.

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