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   Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA)

Introduction of S. 693 - A bill to assist in the enhancement of the security of Taiwan, and for other purposes.

Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

On March 24, 1999, a bi-partisan group of Senators introduced the "Taiwan Security Enhancement Act." This bill is to ensure that the United States is fulfilling its obligations to Taiwan as specified by the Taiwan Relations Act. The bill also points out in its findings that "Any determination of the ultimate status of Taiwan must have the express consent of the people on Taiwan." A House version was introduced on May 18, 1999.

In Sections 3(a) and 3(b) of the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is obliged to provide defensive arms to Taiwan based solely upon the judgment of the United States regarding Taiwan's needs, not upon Beijing's opinion or reaction. Although the Taiwan Relations Act has worked reasonably well for the last 20 years, but recent trends of the Chinese military build-up disclose the need for efforts by the United States to be stepped up to fill the voids left in the Taiwan Relations Act.

From the Pentagon report entitled "The Security Situation in the Taiwan Straits" submitted to the Congress, it stated that China has been and will continue to deploy a large number of missiles directly across the strait from Taiwan . In fact, according to media reports, China already has more than 150 such missiles aimed at Taiwan and plans to increase the number to 650 during the next few years.

The Pentagon report also makes clear that China's vast quantitative edge over Taiwan in naval and air power, coupled with China's ongoing modernization drive, will prove overwhelming in any sort of military confrontation. The Pentagon report concludes that Taiwan's future success in deterring Chinese aggression will be "dependent on its continued acquisition of modern arms, technology and equipment and its ability to deal with a number of systemic problems' such as logistics. "

Given China's threatening military buildup, the U.S. Congress expresses its position that it is high time to begin a discussion of whether the United States ought to be doing more in the way of exchanges in training and planning with Taiwan's military. The Taiwan military has operated in virtual isolation for 20 years, and this has certainly contributed to some of the systemic problems alluded to in the Pentagon report.

According to Dr. Bob Sutter -senior specialist in international politics, foreign affairs and defense at the Congressional Research Service- "the Act will effectively deal with the situation in which the security of Taiwan is threatened due to the imbalance of military power across the Taiwan Straits."

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