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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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