The chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Bob Menéndez, proposed this Wednesday to provide more military aid to Taiwan and for his country to designate the island as a Non-NATO Member Strategic Ally.
Menéndez explained his proposal in an article in The New York Times after the controversial trip to Taiwan by the president of the US House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, for which Beijing has announced retaliation.
Menéndez’s bill, pushed along with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, seeks to provide $4.5 billion in military assistance to Taiwan over the next four years.
In addition, he proposes recognizing the island as a military ally outside NATO, which would strengthen “military and security ties” between the United States and Taiwan, in addition to facilitating Taipei’s participation in international organizations, Menéndez said.
The United States has designated 19 countries as its strategic allies outside of NATO – Qatar and Colombia have been the last two – which grants them military and commercial privileges.
Menéndez’s initiative also proposes “imposing economic consequences on Beijing if it takes hostile action against Taiwan,” such as financial or travel sanctions.
According to its promoter, if approved, it would be the largest legislation on US foreign policy with respect to the island since the Law on Relations with Taiwan was enacted in 1979, which establishes Washington’s support for the “one China” policy.
Pelosi concluded her visit of less than 24 hours to Taiwan on Wednesday, a trip that has put China on a war footing and that has so far resulted in trade sanctions and military maneuvers around the island by Beijing.
The United States “will not abandon Taiwan,” an island that is an “example” for the world, said the US representative at her meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Pelosi’s visit, the third US authority and second in line to the White House, is the first by a US House Speaker to Taiwan since 1997, when Republican Newt Gingrich visited the island.
Although the White House maintains that it does not defend the independence of Taiwan, Pelosi’s visit constitutes for China a show of support for the secession of the island, a territory over which Beijing claims sovereignty, considering it a rebellious province since the nationalists of the Kuomintang they withdrew there in 1949, after losing the civil war against the communists.