Proposed US defense bill for 2023 continues playing the ‘Taiwan card,’ intensifying geopolitical turbulences
Published: Oct 12, 2022 11:07 PM
China, US Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China, US Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US Senate formally began a debate on Tuesday on the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an $817 billion package setting spending levels for the country's military with the goal of countering the so-called threat from China and Russia, according to media reports. As the bill incorporates provisions with the aim of beefing up the US' assistance to the island of Taiwan, some experts said Washington will continue playing the Taiwan card to counter China, which will cause more geopolitical turbulence and intensify the wrestling among major powers. 

The text of the latest version of the NDAA was not immediately available but Senate aides said it would include elements of a bill to significantly enhance security assistance to China's Taiwan that was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September, Reuters said. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that Tuesday's move on the legislation moves it closer to passage by the end of the year, though Senate lawmakers will have to work with House colleagues on a final bill that can win enough bipartisan support to pass.

Along with 36 other House Republicans, Michael McCaul, Republican leader of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the House minority's version of the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 in September, which is considered as a dangerous and harmful move for broader US-China relations. 

The Biden administration signed into law the NDAA for fiscal year 2022 in December 2021, authorizing a total of $770 billion in defense spending as the Senate and House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the defense bill. Both the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of National Defense voiced opposition toward the passage of the act, which underscored a Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices by hyping the so-called threat from China, according to Chinese officials.

"This year's defense policy bill is more specific and targeted, no matter in terms of R&D of weapons and equipment or in military training, and China and Russia are both targeted," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The US has significantly reduced its previous spending on counterterrorism but largely increased the war budget as it is considering how to use the island of Taiwan to contain China's development and how to help Ukraine counter Russia, Song said. 

In the eyes of Chinese experts, it is not surprising that the US defense policy bill incorporates more elements related to military support for Taiwan island, given it has been much clearer now that the overall US policy on China is to continue manipulating the "Taiwan card." 

The highly provocative and dangerous visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August and the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passing the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 in September, in addition to continuing arms sales to the island are considered moves that serve to constantly hollow out the one-China principle, and encourage and incite the island's DPP authorities to intensify the cross-Straits confrontation.

On Tuesday, Brad Wenstrup, an Ohio Republican, landed on the island for a three-day trip. The congressman is a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee's Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support Subcommittee, Newsweek reported. Meanwhile, House representatives Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Kai Kahele of Hawaii and Michael Waltz of Florida are visiting the island until Thursday. They are all members of the House Armed Services Committee.

It is predicted that the US, in terms of strengthening military ties with Taiwan island, will not only increase military assistance and provide advanced military equipment, but will also increase military relations in various sectors including communication and training, a Beijing-based expert told the Global Times on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday.

The defense authorization bill will undoubtedly strengthen the strategic competition with China and Russia in the US' foreign strategies. When the US deals with major power relations, competition and confrontation are everywhere, consequently, the future of major power relations will be extremely turbulent, he said.

The so-called policy bills aim to justify US arms dealers to drain Taiwan authorities dry economically, and the US' assistance to the island is actually lending money to Taiwan authorities to buy weapons from the US, putting them into a deadlock, Song noted. "The upcoming NDAA colluding with the Taiwan Policy Act indicates that Washington will escalate provocation against China with the 'Taiwan card' in the future."