TAIPEI (TVBS News) — The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the "Taiwan Policy Act" with a 17-5 bipartisan vote. According to its sponsors, the bill is "the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy towards Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979."
However, some of the bill's original proposals were either removed or made nonbinding in the wake of misgivings from the White House.
The renaming of Taiwan's de facto U.S. embassy, the requirement of Senate approval for Washington's envoy to Taipei, and the designation of Taiwan as a "major non-NATO ally" became either nonbinding proposals or were removed.
"It means that this is only for your administrative department's reference. They want to give Taiwan more support and help, but they don't want to cross the bottom line," said Li Da-jung, associate professor, Tamkang University Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies.
"The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has taken a step back in this regard," he added. And this is what Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had to say after the vote.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to pay attention to, and follow up on the progress of the Taiwan Policy Act. The MOFA looks forward to promoting this legislation during the limited time in this session of the U.S. Congress," explained Tsui Ching-lin, deputy spokesperson, MOFA
According to the original proposal, calling Taiwan a major non-NATO ally would have helped boost arms sales. During the discussion, however, lawmakers changed the denomination to a so-called "same-level relationship."
This suggests that in the eventuality of a cross-strait conflict, the U.S. is not guaranteeing that it will provide military personnel assistance. While there is progress seen in the bill, the U.S. has also taken some steps back.
Following Wednesday's committee decision, the Taiwan Policy Act still needs to pass votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives and receive approval from U.S. President Joe Biden before the conclusion of the 117th Congress on Jan. 3, 2023, to become law.