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Congressional Committee passes Taiwan Security Enhancement Act
Washington, 26 October 1999
On Tuesday, 26 October 1999, the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act by a wide majority vote of 32 against 6.
The measure provides for the establishment of direct military communication between the US and Taiwan, and expands US training of Taiwanese military officers, as well as the sale of US defense articles and services to the island-nation.
However, most importantly, it states that the U.S. has never "...adopted a formal position as to the ultimate status of Taiwan other than to state that status must be decided by peaceful means. Any determination of the ultimate status of Taiwan must have the express consent of the people on Taiwan."
The legislation specifies that it is in the national interest of the United States to eliminate ambiguity and convey with clarity the continued United States support for Taiwan, its people, and their ability to maintain their democracy free from outside coercion and force.
The legislation also requires the US Administration to report to Congress regarding the ability of the United States to respond to Asian-Pacific contingencies that include Taiwan.
New York Republican Representative Benjamin Gilman, the committee's chairman who submitted the revised version of the legislation, said the bill was a response to China's "overwrought sabre rattling'' and refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.
"The United States should continue to steadfastly meet its security commitments to Taipei as stipulated in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act,'' Gilman said. "This means assisting Taiwan in maintaining the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait in the face of (China's) unprecedented military buildup.''
The measure was introduced in the Spring of 1999 by Republican Whip Tom Delay (R-TX) after a similar measure was introduced in the Senate by Senators Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Jesse Helms (R-NC), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
The bill now must be approved by the full House, which is expected in the near future. Similar legislation already is moving through the Senate.