Sea Platforms

US House approves frigate sale to Taiwan

08 April 2014
USS Taylor (FFG 50) is one of three Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates to be sold to Taiwan. Source: US Navy

The US House of Representatives on 7 April authorised the sale to Taiwan of four Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates.

The bill paves the way for the sale of USS Taylor , USS Gary , USS Carr , and USS Elrod to Taiwan under provisions laid out in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

Authorisation of the sale comes as Taipei and Washington prepare to mark the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the TRA, which was signed on 10 April 1979.

The act obligates the United States "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character", while allowing Washington to recognise Beijing and the "one China policy".

US lawmakers are also calling for legislation reaffirming the importance of the TRA under a Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation bill.

According to the bill, the TRA has been "instrumental in maintaining peace, security, and stability in the Western Pacific since its enactment in 1979" and it reaffirms Congress' "unwavering commitment to the [TRA] as the cornerstone of relations between the United States and Taiwan".

The bill also calls for the US to display its "commitment to Taiwan's security in accord with the [TRA], including Taiwan's procurement of sophisticated weapons of a defensive character, such as F-16 C/Ds aircraft and diesel electric submarines".

The Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation and the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2014 will now be sent to the Senate for ratification.

The legislation was introduced by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce.

Taiwan media quoted Royce as saying "the bill is meant to show the House's strong support for Taiwan" and that it "is now more important than ever [the US] reaffirm [its] strong commitment to Taiwan and the Taiwan Relations Act".

The move by the US House of Representatives comes a week after Taiwan's Deputy Minister of National Defense Lee Shying-jow told a meeting of the Legislative Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on 3 April that China would need at last four months to prepare for an invasion of the island.

ANALYSIS

The sale authorisation also coincided with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's visit to China, where Hagel reiterated the argument that these were "self-defence armaments" and that "nothing has changed since 1979. We still have the same policy that we've been committed to since that time."

Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan said he had expressed "strong dissatisfaction with and a strong objection against the acts passed by the US House of Representatives" to Hagel, and that the sales were "in serious violation of the three US-China joint communiques, especially the principles of the 17 August communique, which is a severe intervention into China's domestic affairs".

He added that such sales undermined US-Chinese relations and interfered in "the peaceful development of cross-straits relations."



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