U.S. senators propose bill to speed up Europe weapons transfer to Taiwan

Washington, May 24 (CNA) Two U.S. senators on Friday introduced a bill to facilitate Europe’s transfer of U.S.-made weapons to Taiwan to encourage stronger cooperation between European countries and Taipei.

Working across party lines, Republican Senator Pete Ricketts and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen proposed the “Building Options for the Lasting Security of Taiwan through European Resolve (BOLSTER) Act.”

The Bolster Act aims to create a mechanism for European NATO countries to more easily transfer U.S.-origin defense equipment to support Taiwan’s self-defense, Ricketts said in a statement.

The bill was initiated at a time when China launched a two-day massive military exercise in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas Thursday shortly after President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) of the Democratic Progressive Party was sworn in on Monday.

The Act requests the state secretary to set up an expedited decision-making process for third party transfers of defense devices and services from NATO countries to Taiwan in less than 90 days after the implementation of the legislation.

To prevent China from occupying any territory controlled by Taiwan, violating the territorial integrity of Taiwan and taking significant action against Taiwan, including a naval blockade, the Act requests the Office of Coordination at the Department of State and the Office of the Foreign Assets Control at the Department of the Treasury to conduct regular consultations with the International Special Envoy for the Implementation of European Union Sanctions and appropriate government officials of European countries.

According to the Act, no later than 180 days after the legislation is enacted, the state secretary should provide a briefing to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives regarding discussions with governments of European NATO countries about contributions to Taiwan’s self-defense.

The contributions will include arms transfers and arms sales, in particular of weapons consistent with an asymmetric defense strategy, and increasing the military presence of these European NATO countries in the Indo-Pacific region, the Act stipulates.

Under the Act, the United States and European countries should discuss how to provide humanitarian aid to Taiwan in the event of a blockade, quarantine, or military invasion of Taiwan by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.

The Act also requests the U.S. president to submit reports to Congress on assessing the economic impact resulting from China’s military actions against Taiwan, including the impact on global trade and output, and naming 10 economic sectors which would be most disrupted by a sustained blockade of Taiwan by the PLA.

“President Xi (Jinping) has made clear his intentions to take Taiwan by force if necessary. This must be prevented at all costs,” Ricketts said in the statement.

“The BOLSTER Act encourages stronger European support for Taiwan and increases coordination on sanctions to deter PRC hostilities toward Taiwan,” Ricketts added.

“Everyone who believes in freedom and democracy, including our partners in Europe, must stand up to PRC aggression. That means strengthening ties to Taiwan and ensuring Xi understands an attack on Taiwan will have severe consequences,” he said.

In addition, the Act also includes a “Sense of Congress” resolution which requests the U.S. and European countries to counter China’s propaganda and false narratives about United Nations Resolution 2758.

Through the Sense of Congress, the two U.S. lawmakers urged European countries, in particular countries having experiences combating Russian aggression and malign activities, to provide Taiwan with lessons learned from their “total defense” programs to mobilize the military and civilians in a time of crisis.

Resolution 2758 was adopted by the 26th U.N. General Assembly in 1971 to solve the issue of China’s representation in the U.N. system. It ultimately led to Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China withdrawing from the U.N. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) taking its place.

The resolution passed on Oct. 25, 1971, recognizes the PRC as the “only lawful representative of China.”

However, Taiwan and U.S. governments have repeatedly argued, that the resolution does not mention Taiwan, does not state that Taiwan is part of the PRC, and does not explicitly authorize Beijing to represent Taiwan in the U.N. system.

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