US defense authorization act only lip service for Taiwan’s DPP, as mainland prepares for worst
Published: Sep 24, 2021 09:02 PM
Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

Media on the island of Taiwan cheerfully hyped up a "pro-Taiwan" move by the US on Friday after the US House of Representatives on Thursday approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year which includes "defending" Taiwan island. Experts from the Chinese mainland said US politicians have sent the wrong signals to Taiwan secessionists, making them believe they have protection, despite the Taiwan-related content in the NDAA not being legally binding.

The act, which is believed to be a defense guideline to some extent, remains to be passed in the Senate, with negotiations on the differences between the two versions in the two houses. 

Although Taiwan media, especially pro-secessionist outlets, were excited with the description in the NDAA about an "invitation extended to Taiwan in the Rim of the Pacific exercise (Rimpac)," and continued support for the development of "capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," they still ignored the prefix of the "Sense of Congress."

Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Friday that even if the final bill passes and goes into effect, the Taiwan-related content is merely the views expressed by congresspeople. Whether, when and how to implement the act depends on the executive branch, which tends not to be as blind and extreme as congress.

"Sense of Congress" means that the Taiwan-related parts in the act are not legally binding… and US lawmakers may squeeze benefits from Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Xin said. 

Some military experts see the Taiwan-related content of the act as an attempt by the US to systematize and normalize military cooperation between Taiwan island and the US.

The act also asks the US Secretary of Defense to submit a report to congressional committees on the feasibility of "enhanced cooperation" between the US' National Guard and the island of Taiwan by February 15, 2022.

"Rimpac is a massive military exercise between the US and its allies, and it has an imaginary enemy… if Taiwan is included in the drill, that imaginary enemy is obviously the Chinese mainland," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday. 

The US will continue provocations against the Chinese mainland on the Taiwan question and sell various weapons and equipment to the island, Song said. 

The 2022 defense budget of the Taiwan region exceeded NT$470 billion ($17 billion), the highest ever. Still, Su Tseng-chang, head of Taiwan's executive body, claimed on Friday that the only option for the island is to show "self-defense determination." 

One day before Su's remarks, 24 military planes of the People's Liberation Army flew through Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest "air defense identification zone." 

"The US act sends the wrong signal to Taiwan secessionists, making them believe that the US is protecting them… The worst-case scenario could be an unwanted military conflict in the Asia-Pacific region," Song said. 

If a military conflict does break out over the Taiwan Straits, the selfish opportunists [US] may retreat once they see no way to reap the benefits, just like they did in Afghanistan, Song said, noting that the Chinese mainland has sufficient means and strong capabilities to solve the Taiwan question once and for all.