US senators introduce legislation to punish Taiwan allies who switch sides, accusing Beijing of ‘bullying’

Zhenhua Lu, US correspondent
US senators introduce legislation to punish Taiwan allies who switch sides, accusing Beijing of ‘bullying’

A bipartisan group of US senators on Wednesday announced that they had introduced legislation to discourage Taiwan’s few remaining allies from switching their diplomatic recognition to Beijing, after El Salvador became the third country this year to make the shift.

The legislation, titled the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, was introduced on Monday by Republican Senators Cory Gardner and Marco Rubio, and Democrats Ed Markey and Bob Menendez, according to a press release published on Wednesday on Gardner’s official website.

“This legislation is intended to strengthen Taiwan’s standing around the world and comes in response to several nations breaking official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, due to Chinese pressure and bullying tactics,” the press release said.

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The latest legislation effort by US lawmakers came as Central American country El Salvador cut its formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan last month, leaving it with only 17 remaining diplomatic allies. China regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be brought to its rule by force if necessary. The US maintains unofficial relations with the island and considers it a staunch ally, although Washington switched its formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

[The legislation would] allow the US government to downgrade the diplomatic relationships we have with nations that choose to follow the bullying of China

US Senator Cory Gardner

The State Department had said the United States was “deeply disappointed” by El Salvador’s decision and was reviewing its relationship with San Salvador, without elaborating further.

The Taipei Act authorises the US State Department to downgrade US relations with any government that takes adverse actions with regard to Taiwan. It also authorises the State Department to suspend or alter US foreign assistance, including foreign military financing, in such circumstances, the press release continued.

A US strategy is required to engage with governments around the world to support Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition or strengthen unofficial ties with Taiwan, it added.

Gardner, who is also the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Asia subcommittee, told reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of a Senate hearing that the legislation will “force” the US to develop such a strategy to help Taiwan.

The bill would also “allow the US government to downgrade the diplomatic relationships we have with nations that choose to follow the bullying of China”, Gardner said, and would require reports on the status of affairs in China and around the world relating to Taiwan.

“When it comes to Taiwan, [and] the relationships around the globe with Taiwan, this would require a comprehensive strategy for the United States,” the Republican senator added.,

Several members of Congress, who see Beijing as a threat to US security and international influence, have expressed frustration with what they see as US President Donald Trump’s failure to adopt a strategy for Taiwan.

Additional reporting by Reuters

This article US senators introduce legislation to punish Taiwan allies who switch sides, accusing Beijing of ‘bullying’ first appeared on South China Morning Post

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