US House passes defense bill with billions in Taiwan aid

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The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a defense spending bill that includes up to $10 billion in military grant assistance for Taiwan and seeks to expedite arms sales to the island, steps likely to anger Beijing.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2023 -- which still requires Senate passage and the signature of President Joe Biden to become law -- would authorize grant assistance for Taiwan of up to $2 billion per year from 2023 through 2027.

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The act also authorizes Biden to provide Taiwan with up to $1 billion per year in defense items from US stockpiles, or other services such as military training.

And it requires the secretaries of State and Defense to “prioritize and expedite the processing of requests from Taiwan under the Foreign Military Sales program.”

The NDAA “will dramatically enhance the United States’ defense partnership with Taiwan,” Senator Bob Menendez, the Foreign Relations Committee chair, said in a statement ahead of the bill’s passage.

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory -- to be reunited one day by force, if necessary -- and has become more bellicose toward the island under President Xi Jinping.

It has responded with growing anger to visits by Western politicians and staged huge military drills to protest US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August, sending tensions to the highest level in years.

Read more: Era of ‘blind engagement’ with China ending, says Pompeo in Taiwan speech

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