A bipartisan pair of senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would give Taiwan $4.5 billion in military aid over four years and designate the island as a “major non-NATO ally,” two steps that would significantly raise tensions with China.
The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 was introduced by hawkish Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In a press release, the senators described the bill as the “most comprehensive restructuring of US policy towards Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.”
The legislation calls for sanctions against high-level Chinese officials, financial institutions, and extraction industries in response to any “escalating hostile actions in or against Taiwan” by Beijing. The bill would also amend the Taiwan Relations Act by expanding the provision of arms to Taiwan from being in a “defensive manner” to “arms conducive to deterring acts of aggression” by China.
The $4.5 billion in military aid would be provided to Taiwan through Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign countries money to buy US-made arms. A summary of the bill says the $4.5 billion in FMF would provide Taiwan “assistance, including equipment, training, and other support, to accelerate the modernization of its defense capabilities.”
A US official familiar with the legislation told Reuters that it made some people in the Biden administration and the State Department “uneasy” over concerns that it could antagonize Beijing. As the US has been growing closer to Taiwan in recent years, Chinese officials have been clear that the island is a red line, and if Washington supports Taiwan’s “independence forces,” it could lead to war.