U.S. draft bill calls for troops to join Taiwan’s annual drill

The details of a piece of U.S. legislation released Wednesday calls for U.S. troops to participate in Taiwan's military exercises and vice versa, as part of ongoing efforts by U.S. congressmen to support Taiwan amid what they see as a rising military threat from Beijing.

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on May 24 passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019, which includes several provisions to help strengthen Taiwan's military capability.

Section 1243 of the act reiterates the decades-long U.S. stance that the Taiwan Relations Act and the "Six Assurances" are both cornerstones of Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Under these cornerstones, the U.S. should "strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan to support the development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," according to the bill.

The U.S. secretary of defense should also promote department of defense policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan, "including U.S. participation in appropriate Taiwan exercises, such as the annual Han Kuang exercise" and vice versa, it noted.

The annual Han Kuang military exercises are Taiwan's largest-scale annual drill. It is held in two stages: first with computer-aided war games before live-fire drills are staged across the country.

This year's computer-aided war games were held from April 30 to May 4.

The live-fire drills are being staged across the country from Monday through Friday, featuring for the first time Coast Guard officers and civilian drone operators to make use of all levers of national power in military planning, according to the defense ministry.

The act calls on both countries to expand cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and urges the secretary of defense to consider supporting a visit by an American hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual "Pacific Partnership" mission to improve disaster response planning and preparedness.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have over the years passed a number of pro-Taiwan laws to show support for Taiwan, including the Taiwan Travel Act in late February, which encourages meetings and visits between high-ranking U.S. and Taiwanese government officials.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel