Among many things, NDAA 2019 recommends closer U.S. military ties with Taiwan and takes a much harsher stance on China, a strategic competitor it now seeks to de-invite from the RIMPAC exercises.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday (July 26) approved the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a number of measures meant to counteract the increasingly aggressive behavior of states like Russia and China. The bill, which passed with a 359-54 vote, will now make its way to the Senate for a final vote as early as next week (on Aug. 1 the U.S. Senate voted 87-10 in favor).
While it addresses a wide range of issues, Taiwan Sentinel has excerpted the key sections of the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 5515 — John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 that pertain to Taiwan and China. Particularly salient points appear in bold.
On Taiwan, much of the earlier recommendations for closer ties between the countries’ armed forces remain in the final version. However, direct references to U.S. military participation in Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang exercises have been struck out.
(a) DEFENSE ASSESSMENT.—The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with appropriate counterparts of Taiwan, conduct a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan’s military forces, particularly Taiwan’s reserves. The assessment shall provide recommendations to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, readiness, and resilience of Taiwan’s self-defense capability in the following areas:
(1) Personnel management and force development, particularly reserve forces.
(2) Recruitment, training, and military programs.
(3) Command, control, communications and intelligence.
(4) Technology research and development.
(5) Defense article procurement and logistics. (6) Strategic planning and resource management.
(b) REPORT REQUIRED.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report containing each of the following:
(A) A summary of the assessment con-ducted pursuant to subsection (a).
(B) A list of any recommendations resulting from such assessment.
(C) A plan for the United States, including
by using appropriate security cooperation authorities, to—
(i) facilitate any relevant recommendations from such list;
(ii) expand senior military-to-military engagement and joint training by the United States Armed Forces with the military of Taiwan; and
(iii) support United States foreign military sales and other equipment transfers to Taiwan, particularly for developing asymmetric warfare capabilities.
(2) APPROPRIATE SECURITY COOPERATION AUTHORITIES.—For purposes of the plan described in paragraph (1)(C), the term ‘‘appropriate security co-operation authorities’’ means—
(A) section 311 of title 10, United States Code (relating to exchange of defense personnel);
(B) section 332 such title (relating to defense institution building); and
(C) other security cooperation authorities under chapter 16 of such title.
(3) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—In this subsection, the term ‘‘appropriate congressional committees’’ means—
(A) the congressional defense committees; and
(B) the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
SEC. 1258. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON TAIWAN.
It is the sense of Congress that—
(1) the Taiwan Relations Act (22 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.) and the ‘‘Six Assurances’’ are both corner- stones of United States relations with Taiwan;
(2) the United States should strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan to support the development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability;
(3) the United States should strongly support the acquisition by Taiwan of defensive weapons through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales, and industrial cooperation, with a particular emphasis on asymmetric warfare and undersea warfare capabilities, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act;
(4) the United States should improve the predictability of arms sales to Taiwan by ensuring timely review of and response to requests of Taiwan for defense articles and defense services;
(5) the Secretary of Defense should promote Department of Defense policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan, including—
(A) opportunities for practical training and military exercises with Taiwan; and
(B) exchanges between senior defense officials and general officers of the United States and Taiwan consistent with the Taiwan Travel Act (Public Law 115–135);
(6) the United States and Taiwan should expand cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; and
(7) the Secretary of Defense should consider supporting the visit of a United States hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual ‘‘Pacific Partnership’’ mission in order to improve disaster response planning and preparedness as well as to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Taiwan.
Referring to the U.S. National Defense Strategy, which states that “China is using an ‘all-of-nation long-term strategy’ and ‘leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage,” the NDAA now classifies China as a “strategic competitor that seeks to shape the world toward their authoritarian model through destabilizing activities that threaten the security of the United States and its allies.” As such, the NDAA:
• Prohibits any U.S. government agency from using risky technology produced by Huawei or ZTE, two companies linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence apparatus. The NDAA also prohibits any entity doing business with the US Government from using Huawei or ZTE technology. The NDAA also prohibits the use in security related functions of equipment produced by several other Chinese companies with ties to the Chinese government (This Proposal enjoys wide bipartisan support and is in concert with recent unanimous regulatory actions by the Federal Communications Commission.)
• Directs a whole-of-government strategy on China to address the Chinese Communist Party’s use of political influence, economic tools, cyber activities, global infrastructure and development projects, and military activities against the United States and allies and partners.
• Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a 5-year plan for an “Indo-Pacific Stability Initiative” to bolsters DOD’s efforts to plan for and provide the necessary forces and military infrastructure, and logistics capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.
• Extends authority for the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) for an additional 5 years, re-designates the Southeast Asia MSI as the Indo-Pacific MSI, includes Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as recipient countries of assistance and training, and adds India as a covered country with the aim to increase maritime security and maritime domain awareness in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.
• Requires a strategy with specific benchmarks toward enhancing India’s status as major defense partner and defense and security cooperation with India.
• Prohibits China’s participation at the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises unless the Secretary provides a national security waiver or certification requirements to do so.
• Requires a public report on the military and coercive activities of China in the South China Sea and encourages the Secretary of Defense to require the public release of
information illustrating Chinese activities of concern.
• Modifies the annual report on Chinese military and security developments to include malign influence activities, including efforts to influence media, cultural institutions, business, and academic and policy communities in the United States, and the use of nonmilitary tools, including predatory lending practices, to support its global security and military objectives.
• Limits DOD funds for Chinese language programs at universities that host a Confucius Institute.