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RFA: Obama Signs Defense Bill Strengthening Military Exchanges with Taiwan

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Saturday that, on Friday, December 23, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which requires the Pentagon to facilitate military exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan.

It was the first time that high level military exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan had been written into an Act of Congress.

RFA cited the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Taipei as stating that the bill [NDAA] fully demonstrates the United States’ concern and support for Taiwan’s defense and safety; it is expected that cooperation will continue on the current basis.

RFA‘s report noted that China’s Foreign Ministry made it clear earlier that China firmly opposes such bills and any form of official military connection between the U.S. and Taiwan, .

On Sunday December 25, Beijing-based Global Times, which is affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily, was the first major Chinese news outlet to have reported the signing of the 2017 annual NDAA. It quoted the Chinese scholars who Taiwan’s leading online news portal China Times had interviewed, as saying that such a U.S. move could force China into choosing unification by force.

Shi Yinhong, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing, told China Times that Obama’s action would make Taiwan a more sensitive and pointed issue between China and the U.S., as the Mainland considers military exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan to be taboo. Although this does not amount to overthrowing the “one-China principle,” it is “on the borderline,” and will severely damage the implementation of the “One-China principle” in practice.

China Times also interviewed Guo Xiangang, the vice president of the Beijing-based China Institute of International Studies. Guo was certain that Beijing would lodge a protest, as the signing of the act would likely lead Taiwan to believe that the U.S. backs it up, and would make Tsai Ing-wen <Taiwan’s President> even less likely to recognize the 1992 Consensus.

Guo went on to cite the three joint China-U.S. communiques as the basis on which the U.S. must reduce its military sales to Taiwan. Obama’s signing the NDAA would open the door to weapons sales of increased quantity and enhanced quality. Beijing will absolutely not allow this to happen. The People’s Liberation Army will continue to strengthen its military preparedness, which will bring about an escalated arms race across the Taiwan Strait. Guo concluded that, in the end, Beijing could be forced to opt for unification by force.

Global Times quoted China Times‘ online report that, according to the 2017 annual NDAA, officials participating in the U.S. and Taiwan military exchanges should include active-duty generals or flag officers of the U.S. armed forces, as well U.S. Department of Defense civilian officials ranked Assistant Secretary of Defense or above.

Radio Free Asia, December 24, 2016,
Global Times, December 25, 2016,