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Asia Minute: Congress considers new Taiwan weapons policy

China Taiwan Sanctions military arms
Johnson Lai/AP
Military personnel stand next to U.S. Harpoon A-84, anti-ship missiles and AIM-120 and AIM-9 air-to-air missiles prepared for a weapon loading drills in front of a U.S. F-16V fighter jet at the Hualien Airbase in Taiwan's southeastern Hualien county, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. China announced sanctions on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, against the CEOs of American defense contractors Raytheon and Boeing Defense over a major U.S. arms sale to rival Taiwan. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai, File)

There's a move in Congress to change the way the United States provides arms to Taiwan. For the first time, it would have the U.S. government directly finance those purchases.

A bill is moving through Congress that would boost U.S. security assistance to Taiwan up to $6.5 billion over the next five years.

The funding would allow Taiwan to purchase U.S. military equipment by way of grants and loans.

That's a change from current policy — under which Taiwan pays for arms that the U.S. State Department approves for export.

The measure is called the Taiwan Policy Act — and it also includes a number of other provisions beyond weapons.

It would trigger sanctions on several Chinese state-owned banks if the president determines the Beijing government has “engaged in a significant escalation in aggression” against Taiwan.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill Wednesday by a 17 to 5 vote.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaiʻi was one of the “no” votes — along with three other Democrats and one Republican.

Earlier this month, the State Department announced a $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

That package was mostly support for Taiwanʻs Surveillance Radar Program — as well as anti-ship missiles and tactical air missiles.

The Taiwan Policy Act still needs to pass the full House and Senate.

China's government has called the bill “extremely egregious” and says it would have a “subversive impact on China-U.S. relations.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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