US president signs bill backing military exchanges with Taiwan

18th JANUARY 2017 | 
Public Opinions International

U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a defense bill Dec. 23 that includes a section on high-level military exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in a 375-34 vote Dec. 2, before clearing the Senate with a 92-7 vote Dec. 8.

Section 1284 of the NDAA concerning the sense of the U.S. Congress on military exchanges with Taiwan states that the “Secretary of Defense should carry out a program of exchanges of senior military officers and senior officials between the United States and Taiwan designed to improve military to military relations between the United States and Taiwan.”

Exchanges are defined as “an activity, exercise, event, or observation opportunity between members of the Armed Forces and officials of the Department of Defense, on the one hand, and armed forces personnel and officials of Taiwan, on the other hand.”

The Republic of China (Taiwan) Ministry of National Defense expressed gratitude in a statement Dec. 24, adding that the measure demonstrates the support and concern of the U.S. for the ROC’s national defense and security. “We hope both sides build on the strong existing foundations for cooperation by further deepening substantive exchanges with the common goal of promoting regional peace and stability,” the ministry stated.

Taiwan and the U.S. enjoy robust ties in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. Signed into law in 1979 after the U.S. switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the TRA authorizes the continuation of substantive relations between the people of the U.S. and the people of Taiwan.

In 1982, then U.S. President Ronald Reagan issued the Six Assurances, stipulating the U.S. would not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; revise the TRA; consult with mainland China on arms sales to Taiwan; mediate between Taiwan and mainland China; alter its position on the sovereignty of Taiwan or exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into talks with mainland China; or formally recognize mainland Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. (KWS-E).


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