Biden signs $858 billion defense bill including funds for Taiwan, allies


U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday signed into law an $858 billion defense policy bill set to increase security cooperation with Taiwan by providing billions in aid over the coming years, while continuing to invest in alliances and partnerships amid China’s assertiveness and Russian threats.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2023 through next September authorizes about 10 percent more in spending than last year’s budget, with $11.5 billion eyed for an initiative to enhance U.S. deterrence and defense in the Indo-Pacific.

The law increased the authorized defense funding by $45 billion above Biden’s budget request, partly to address the effects of inflation, according to a summary of the bill issued by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services earlier this month.

It focuses on “the most vital national security priorities for the United States, including strategic competition with China and Russia,” the summary said.

As Taiwan faces growing pressure from China, which endeavors to bring the self-ruled democratic island back into its fold, by force if necessary, the legislation authorized up to $10 billion in security assistance over the next five years to modernize Taiwan’s security capabilities to deter aggression by Beijing.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to a civil war.

The United States changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has kept up unofficial relations with Taiwan while supplying the island with arms and spare parts to help it maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities.

Similar to the NDAA for fiscal 2022, the legislation called on the U.S. government to invite Taiwan to participate in a U.S.-led major multinational naval exercise known as RIMPAC in 2024.

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, first conducted in 1971, has been held nearly every two years. The 2022 drills were joined by U.S. allies including Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Signaling the continuing focus on engaging with the Indo-Pacific region, the so-called Pacific Deterrence Initiative in the fiscal 2023 NDAA saw a funding increase of more than 60 percent from the previous year.

For Ukraine, which continues to fight back against Russia’s invasion that began in February, the legislation authorized $800 million for security assistance in fiscal 2023, an increase of $500 million above Biden’s request, according to the summary.



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