US senators introduced bipartisan legislation on Friday, which would see Taiwan receive close to $4.5 billion in security aid over the next four years and become a major non-NATO ally as China steps up its threats against the island.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham announced the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 “in the wake of last week’s threats by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe that China will ‘not hesitate to start a war’ and ‘smash to smithereens’ Taiwan.”
The two senators said this legislation would be the most comprehensive restructuring of US policy towards Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.
In 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter acknowledged China’s One China policy, severing normal ties with Taiwan. Later that year, the Taiwan Relations Act, passed by Congress, said Washington could give Taiwan defensive arms.
The latest resolution from Menendez and Graham is meant to deter China’s aggression against Taiwan and impose “steep costs” against Beijing for any “hostile action” by setting up a sanctions regime.
And after Russia invaded Ukraine, with Beijing’s implicit support, Menendez warned China against invading Taiwan. “I thank Senator Graham for working with me on this landmark legislation to send a clear message to Beijing not to make the same mistakes with Taiwan that Vladimir Putin has made in Ukraine,” he said.
Graham said the bill would allow for the most significant expansion of military and economic ties between Washington and Taiwan, adding that “China is sizing up America and our commitment to Taiwan.”
He added: “The danger will only grow worse if we show weakness in the face of Chinese threats and aggression toward Taiwan.”
Earlier this year, Menendez and Graham headed a congressional delegation (CODEL) to Australia, Taiwan and Japan. They met with Taiwan’s top officials, including the president, foreign minister and defense minister.
Tensions have soared between the US and China in recent years, especially as China looks to expand its influence into foreign capitals and continues its labor abuses and genocides against Uyghur Muslims.