Tag Archive: congress

Taiwan in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), 2018

Update, September 18, 2017

On this date, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 by Yea-Nay Vote of 89 – 8. Sections 1268 and 1270E were not changed from the House version. However, Section 1270G – normalizing the transfer of Defense Articles and Defense Services to Taiwan – is not included in the Senate version.

The bill now awaits reconciliation and final signature.

Update, July 14, 2017

The NDAA, as H.R.2810, was introduced in the House on June 7, 2017. On July 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018. Several Taiwan-related initiatives were included.

Section 1268 deals with a sense of Congress on strengthening Taiwan defense:

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the Taiwan Relations Act (Public Law 96–8; 22 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.) codified the basis for commercial, cultural, and other relations between the United States and Taiwan, and the Six Assurances are an important aspect in guiding bilateral relations;

(2) Section 3(a) of that Act states that ‘‘the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability’’;

(3) the United States, in accordance with such section, should make available and provide timely review of requests for defense articles and defense services that may be necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability;

(4) Taiwan should significantly increase its defense budget to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability;

(5) the United States should support expanded exchanges focused on practical training for Taiwan personnel by and with United States military units, including exchanges between services, to empower senior military officers to identify and develop asymmetric and innovative capabilities that strengthen Taiwan’s ability to deter aggression;

(6) the United States should seek opportunities for expanded training and exercises with Taiwan;

(7) the United States should encourage Taiwan’s continued investments in asymmetric self-defense capabilities that are mobile, survivable against threatening forces, and able to take full advantage of Taiwan’s geography; and

(8) the United States should continue to—
     (A) support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises that increase Taiwan’s resiliency and ability to respond to and recover from natural disasters; and
     (B) recognize Taiwan’s already valuable military contributions to such efforts.

Section 1270E deals with a report on Naval Port of Call Exchanges between the United States and Taiwan:

(a) Report Required.–Not later than September 1, 2018, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the following:
     (1) An assessment of the feasibility and advisability regarding ports of call by the United States Navy at ports on the island of Taiwan.
     (2) An assessment of the feasibility and advisability of the United States to receiving ports of call by the Republic of China navy in Hawaii, Guam, and other appropriate locations.

(b) Form.–The report required by subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.

(c) Appropriate Committees of Congress Defined.–In this section, the term “appropriate committees of Congress” means–
     (1) the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; and
     (2) the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

 

Section 1270G deals with a sense of Congress on normalizing the transfer of defense articles and defense services to Taiwan:

(a) Sense of Congress.–It is the sense of Congress that any requests from the Government of Taiwan for defense articles and defense services should receive a case-by-case review by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, that is consistent with the standard processes and procedures in an effort to normalize the arms sales process with Taiwan.

(b) Report.–
     (1) In general.–Not later than 120 days after the date on which the Secretary of Defense receives a Letter of Request from Taiwan with respect to the transfer of a defense article or defense service to Taiwan, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that includes–
          (A) the status of such request;
          (B) if the transfer of such article or service would require a certification or report to Congress pursuant to any applicable provision of section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2776), the status of any Letter of Offer and Acceptance the Secretary of Defense intends to issue with respect to such request; and
          (C) an assessment of whether the transfer of such article or service would be consistent with United States obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act (Public Law 96-8; 22 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.).
     (2) Elements.–Each report required under paragraph (1) shall specify the following:
          (A) The date the Secretary of Defense received the Letter of Request.
          (B) The value of the sale proposed by such Letter of Request.
          (C) A description of the defense article or defense service proposed to be transferred.
          (D) The view of the Secretary of Defense with respect to such proposed sale and whether such sale would be consistent with defense plans.
     (3) Form.–Each report required under paragraph (1) shall be submitted in unclassified form but may contain a classified annex.

(c) Briefing.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall provide a briefing to the appropriate congressional committees with respect to the security challenges faced by Taiwan and the military cooperation between the United States and Taiwan, including a description of any requests from Taiwan for the transfer of defense articles or defense services and the status, whether signed or unsigned, of any Letters of Offer and Acceptance with respect to such requests.

(d) Definitions.–In this section:
     (1) Appropriate congressional committees.–The term “appropriate congressional committees” means–
          (A) the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives; and
          (B) the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate.
     (2) Defense article; defense service.–The terms “defense article” and “defense service” have the meanings given such terms in section 47 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2794).
     (3) Letter of request; letter of offer and acceptance.–The terms “Letter of Request” and “Letter of Offer and Acceptance” have the meanings given such terms for purposes of Chapter 5 of the Security Assistance Management Manual of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, as in effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.

June 28, 2017

On this date, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) announced details of the committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. During the markup, 277 amendments — offered by both Republican and Democratic members — were considered and adopted. The committee voted unanimously to report the bill.

In a summary document provided following the markup, the SASC stated that the bill:

Reestablishes regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan and permits U.S. Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwan; directs the Department to implement a program of technical assistance to support Taiwanese efforts to develop indigenous undersea warfare capabilities, including vehicles and sea mines; and expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should strengthen and enhance its long-standing partnership and strategic cooperation with Taiwan.

This post will continue to track the Taiwan-related language in the 2018 NDAA, as circumstances warrant.

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Taiwan Arms Sales Notified to Congress, 1990-2017

Taiwan Arms Sales 1990-2017

Taiwan Arms Sales 1990-2017

Updated Chart: Taiwan Arms Sales Notified to Congress, 1990-2017

Shows clearly notification packaging/bundling and the long freeze.

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The Trump Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of State to announce its approval of seven possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan, with a total value of US$1.363 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan arms sales on June 29, 2017. A direct commercial sale was also notified, bringing the total to approximately US$1.4 billion.

The published FMS Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 16-67, 16-68, 16-69, 16-70, 16-73, 16-74, and 16-75) were for SM-2 Block IIIA All-Up Rounds, associated equipment and technical support (US$125 million); MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo Conversion Kits, spare parts and other support and assistance (US$175 million); MK 48 Mod 6AT Heavyweight Torpedoes, other support, spare parts, training, and assistance (US$250 million); Hardware, software, and other upgrades to the AN/SLQ-32(V)3 Electronic Warfare Systems supporting Taiwan’s KEELUNG Class destroyers (US$80 million); AGM-154C JSOW Air-to-Ground Missiles, spare/repair parts and other support and assistance (US$185.5 million); AGM-88B HARMs and Training HARMs, spare/repair parts, testing, and other support and assistance (US$147.5 million); SRP Operations and Maintenance follow-on sustainment (US$400 million).

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes these Congressional notifications in adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act, which obligates the U.S. to help enable Taiwan’s self-defense. However, it has been 562 days since the last arms sale to Taiwan in late 2015. The Council questions the impact that delays in consideration and execution of Taiwan arms requests are having on the island’s ability to maintain its self-defense capabilities.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers noted that “support for Taiwan remains an essential aspect of the U.S. national security posture in Asia, particularly as increased cross-Strait tensions would fundamentally threaten stability in the region. The U.S. is legally and historically committed to providing Taiwan with arms of sufficient quantity and quality to provide for its own self-defense. Arms sales have long been a mainstay of U.S. security relations with the island, supporting U.S. efforts to deter coercion from the PRC and help provide for Taiwan’s self-determination.

Hammond-Chambers added “The Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Packaging several years’ worth of items drives up the overall dollar value of each tranche of notifications. Each Taiwan arms sale also becomes a rare and compelling event, drawing significantly more attention than it might otherwise garner. This creates a more substantial opportunity for Chinese protests and posturing in response to each sale, protests that have had a deterrent effect on U.S. willingness to release needed but advanced systems to Taiwan – such as new-build fighters and submarines. It would be in the U.S. interest to provide less of an impetus for Chinese protests in response to Taiwan arms sales, and moving away from packaging would be a substantial step in the right direction.

The Trump Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/the-trump-administration-announces-u-s-arms-sales-to-taiwan/

Admiral Harris – Commander, United States Pacific Command – Statement on Taiwan

 

Free and fair democratic elections in January on the island of Taiwan reflect shared values with the U.S. The U.S. maintains its unofficial relations with Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan and we continue supporting Taiwan’s security. USPACOM will continue to fulfill U.S. commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act; continued arms sales to Taiwan are an important part of that policy and help ensure the preservation of democratic government institutions.

 

Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN
Commander, United States Pacific Command
Statement to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hearing Details & Video
Admiral Harris’ Written Statement

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Benjamin L. Cardin & John McCain Letter to President Obama Regarding Arms Sales to Taiwan – November 19, 2015

Letter (PDF):

Benjamin L. Cardin & John McCain Letter to President Obama Regarding Arms Sales to Taiwan – November 19, 2015

 

Text of the letter:

November 19, 2015

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20515

Dear President Obama,

America’s long-standing commitment to Taiwan is a multifaceted and bipartisan effort that includes many components, all of which must be exercised as we seek to support and safeguard the ability of the people on Taiwan to determine their own future. One critical component is U.S. security assistance and arms sales to Taiwan to help modernize and build the capacity of its armed forces. We believe this support must be more robust.

While recent relations between Taiwan and China have been more encouraging, we remain concerned that China’s ongoing military modernization, and the threat it poses to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, is not being adequately addressed. We recognize that a great deal of bilateral security cooperation is taking place between the United States and Taiwan, including more than $12 billion worth of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan since the start of your administration. These actions have been welcome. However, we are troubled that it has now been over four years – the longest period since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 – since the administration has notified Congress of a new arms sale package.

The United States must continue to further our interests in cross-Strait stability – a vital component of which is arms sales to Taiwan, pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act – even when doing so brings short-term tensions in our relationship with China. The United States should develop and implement an ongoing plan for Taiwan’s military modernization, including how the administration plans to address Taiwan’s legitimate requirement for additional new manned fighters and submarines and other self-defense articles and services. Given some of the obstacles with the current approach, we believe that a regular and routine process for the provision of security assistance to Taiwan is essential.

Finally, we believe that it is equally important that Taiwan strive to meet President Ma Ying-jeou’s 2008 commitment to invest at least 3 percent of its annual gross domestic product on defense. We are increasingly concerned that, absent a change in defense spending, Taiwan’s military will continue to be under-resourced and unable to make the investments necessary to maintain a credible deterrent across the strait, especially as its limited defense resources are increasingly constrained by growing military personnel costs.

Consistent with the requirements of the Taiwan Relations Act, which call for regular consultations between the Executive Branch and Congress, we look forward to the opportunity to discuss together how best we can support and strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, including any arms sales under consideration or planned.

Sincerely,

Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator

John McCain
United States Senator

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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission – 2013 Annual Report to Congress

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) was “created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.

On November 20, 2013, the USCC released its 2013 annual report to congress. Chapter 3, Section 2 of the report contains analysis on Taiwan, including discussions on cross-Strait relations, Taiwan’s role in the East and South China Sea disputes, and the status of U.S.-Taiwan relations. The report also contains extensive discussion on cross-Strait military and security issues.

Complete Report (PDF, 15MB)
Chapter 3, Section 2: Taiwan (PDF, 1.1MB)

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Link

The US House of Representatives on Friday passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which calls on US President Barack Obama to sell no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole aircraft to Taiwan. While the amendment has no real power and must still be considered by the US Senate, it serves to pressure the White House and keep the F-16 issue on the agenda.
US House approves pro-Taiwan arms, diplomacy proposals

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US-Taiwan Business Council Lauds House Approval of Granger Amendment to the NDAA, Mandating Selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan

The US–Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the vote in the House of Representatives approving Rep. Kay Granger’s amendment mandating selling no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole fighter aircraft to Taiwan. The Granger amendment was attached to H.R.4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, and was included in a collection of non-controversial amendments that were packaged together and voted upon as a group.

“The bipartisan vote approving this amendment speaks to the tremendous support this sale enjoys in the House,” said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, President of the US-Taiwan Business Council. “The Taiwan Air Force is nearing an operational crisis point. Within five years more than half of Taiwan’s current fighter fleet will be retired, leaving fewer than 200 aircraft to defend the island. New F-16C/Ds would provide Taiwan – a strong and democratic ally – with the airframes they need to provide a credible deterrent to Chinese adventurism,” he said.

The House action comes on the heels of a White House letter to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), which recognized the urgency and severity of the burgeoning fighter gap between China and Taiwan. The letter stated that the Obama Administration is working on a near-term course of action to address the fighter shortfall, “including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U.S.-made fighter aircraft.” The Administration has resisted the sale of new fighter aircraft to Taiwan, driven by unsupported concerns over retaliatory responses by China.

Hammond-Chambers commented that “The recent acknowledgement by the White House that Taiwan needs new fighters is a welcome and positive development. The threat from China is real, and we have seen report after report describing Beijing’s massive military buildup across the Taiwan Strait. New aircraft will add to Taiwan’s sense of security, and will allow Taipei to negotiate with China from a position of strength. The next phase of cross-Strait dynamics will require sophisticated, flexible, focused, and determined U.S. engagement and support for Taiwan, and it is absolutely essential that the Administration take the necessary steps to notify the sale of new F-16C/Ds to Congress. It is time to approve this sale and move forward.”

The total U.S. economic impact associated with the F-16 sale is estimated to be just over $17 billion. At a time when America needs every job it can generate, selling new F-16C/Ds to Taiwan would be protecting more than 87,000 person-years of work. “That’s a real shot-in-the-arm to a critical part of our defense base,” Hammond-Chambers said. “In addition, it would serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States. This is a ‘win-win’ for both Taiwan and the U.S.,” he added.

The NDAA has yet to be taken up by the United States Senate.

 

Press Note: US-Taiwan Business Council Lauds House Approval of Granger Amendment to the NDAA, Mandating Selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan (PDF file)

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Senator Cornyn Releases Lippert Hold, White House Makes Concessions on Taiwan Arms Sales

Senator John Cornyn has lifted his hold on the Senate confirmation of Mark W. Lippert for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs – the Pentagon’s top Asia official. The hold was lifted in exchange for a White House letter addressing Senator Cornyn’s concerns over Taiwan arms sales, and in particular the longstanding request from Taiwan to purchase new F-16 C/D aircraft. The White House letter included a commitment that forthcoming “near-term” solutions to Taiwan’s fighter shortfall will include new U.S.-made fighter aircraft. Mr. Lippert was confirmed by the Senate last night, before it recessed for a week.

In the letter, signed by White House Director of Legislative Affairs Robert L. Nabors, the Administration states that “We are mindful of and share your concerns about Taiwan’s growing shortfall in fighter aircraft – as the F-5s are retired from service and notwithstanding the upgrade of the F-16A/Bs. We recognize that China has 2,300 operational combat aircraft, while our democratic partner Taiwan has only 490. We are committed to assisting Taiwan in addressing the disparity in numbers of aircraft through our work with Taiwan’s defense ministry on its development of a comprehensive defense strategy vis-a-vis China.” In addition, the letter asserts that “the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the inter-agency and the Congress, will play a lead role as the Administration decides on a near-term course of action on how to address Taiwan’s fighter gap, including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U.S.-made fighter aircraft.

The language in today’s White House letter differs significantly from the original Administration response to Senator Cornyn’s concerns. In a February 15 letter, the U.S. Department of Defense asserted that “we believe the F-16 A/B upgrade effectively meets Taiwan’s current needs.”

In a statement today, Senator Cornyn said “I commend the Administration for recognizing that our friend and ally Taiwan’s air force is woefully undersized and outgunned by Communist China, and their inability to adequately defend themselves poses a threat not just to their own security, but to that of the United States. I look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the Administration and Taiwan as we move forward in this joint effort to ensure Taiwan has the new American-made fighter jets it needs to defend itself.

Senator Cornyn is not alone in expressing his concerns over U.S. efforts to support Taiwan’s legitimate requirement for a modern and fully capable air force. The Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act – bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Cornyn and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), which would require the Obama Administration to sell no fewer than 66 new F 16C/D multirole fighter jets to Taiwan – may be considered in the House later this spring. The issue is continuing to attract attention because as the program to upgrade Taiwan’s 145 F-16 A/Bs begins, and in the absence of new F-16s C/Ds, Taiwan will have as few as 75 usable modern fighters at any given time between 2016-2022.

The US-Taiwan Business Council congratulates Mr. Lippert on his new position, where we look forward to working with him on Taiwan defense issues. The Council also urges the Administration to follow through on this newfound commitment to Taiwan’s defense by announcing the sale of new F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan. At a time when America needs every job it can generate, such a sale would mean more than $17 billion to the U.S. economy, and it would be protecting more than 87,000 jobs. It would also serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States.

 

Press Note: Senator Cornyn Releases Lippert Hold, White House Makes Concessions on Taiwan Arms Sales (PDF file)

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Special Commentary: The Obama Administration Notifies Taiwan’s F-16A/B Upgrade Program To Congress. Where Are The F-16C/Ds?

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the news that the Obama Administration will proceed with a commitment to upgrade Taiwan’s present inventory of F-16 A/Bs at a possible cost of US$5.3 billion, the continuation of the Luke Air Force Base training program at a potential cost of US$500 million, and a requisition for up to US$52 million in parts for Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs, F-5s, C-130s and IDFs. The congressional notifications are attached.

The Council welcomes the Obama Administration’s partial commitment to supporting Taiwan’s efforts to upgrade and modernize its air power capabilities. As we noted in our 2010 report “The Balance of Air Power in the Taiwan Strait”, Taiwan certainly needs to implement a robust mid-life retrofit/modernization program for its existing fleet of F-16 A/Bs. The FMS programs notified to Congress today will help Taiwan address diminishing manufacturing sources and obsolescence issues, improve reliability and maintainability, improve survivability, and update aircraft capabilities to remain abreast of current mission requirements.

Upgraded F-16 A/Bs Are Not Enough to Face the Threat from China

A recent U.S. Department of Defense report states that “China has continued to develop a wide range of weapons and capabilities designed to provide credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.” The report goes on to note that the military threat posed by China to Taiwan continues to grow rapidly.

The Taiwan Air Force is therefore in dire need of a robust and modern fighter fleet in order to prepare for all possible contingencies. The upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs will go some way towards moving the Taiwan Air Force in the right direction, if the upgraded fighters are equipped with modern systems and munitions.

However, with the Taiwan Air Force retiring its obsolete F-5s and prohibitively expensive Mirage 2000-5s, Taiwan will still fall perilously short of the airframes it requires to maintain an adequate air defense force, even with the scheduled upgrade. This shortfall is inherently destabilizing, and if not addressed it will threaten the military balance in the Taiwan Strait and encourage Chinese adventurism in the coming years.

Unnamed Obama Administration officials have been stating – as they did in the Wall Street Journal yesterday – “Taiwan gets them quicker and they are cheaper than C/Ds”.

This is a false statement. The upgrade program is comprehensive, but spans almost 10 years with the first upgraded A/B coming as late as the 6th year of the program. If the Obama Administration were to accept a Letter of Request for 66 F-16 C/Ds now, the entire tranche of new fighters could be delivered before Taiwan receives any of its upgraded F-16 A/Bs.

Secondly, the Obama Administration is suggesting that the choice was between either the F-16 A/B upgrade or the F-16 C/Ds. Again, this is a false choice. It is not either but both programs that are required. The correct approach would have both programs running sequentially, so that as new F-16 C/Ds are delivered to Taiwan – before Taiwan starts pulling front line F-16 A/Bs out of operations – there will be no degradation of Taiwan’s fighter strength. As presently structured, Taiwan will actually see a reduction in the number of operational F-16s over the next 10 years.

The solution to this shortfall is the sale of 66 F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan, as a follow up and in addition to the announced upgrade of Taiwan’s existing fleet of A/Bs. Together, these two programs would help Taiwan adequately fill the fighter gap, and would ensure that Taiwan has an air force capable of deterring China from provoking or attacking it. A fighter force able to handle all of Taiwan’s many contingencies.

The Council comments on Congressional Notifications for Taiwan Arms Sales:

Special Commentary: The Obama Administration Notifies Taiwan’s F-16 A/B Upgrade Program To Congress. Where Are The F-16 C/Ds?

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