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   Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA)

SINGAPORE TIMES - October 4, 1999
"White House tries to dilute Taiwan Bill"

It fears the Republican-drafted Taiwan Security Enhancement Act could complicate US-China ties

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration has mobilised the business community and its own officials to try to block or dilute a little-noticed Bill on US-Taiwan relations that it fears could complicate its relationship with China.

Its concerns about the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act rose sharply in recent days as the chances for House passage of the measure increased.

The act is supported strongly by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, a Republican from Texas, and by Mr Benjamin Gilman, a Republican from New York, who is chairman of the House Committee on International Relations.

The Bill was drafted in the office of Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina.

"It moves us very close, if not all the way there, to a formal military alliance with Taiwan," said one administration official.

Such a change would vastly complicate ties with Beijing, he added.

For 20 years, US administrations have been trying to balance full recognition of China and the interests of Taiwan, which has many influential supporters in this country.

A Republican ally of the administration in the manoeuvring over the Bill took the unusual step last week of revealing the contents of this year's US arms sales package for Taiwan to demonstrate that new legislation was not required. Mr Doug Bereuter, chairman of the International Relations subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said the latest arms sales  approved by the US would give Taiwan early-warning radar to detect Chinese missile launches, new and upgraded Patriot 3 anti-missile batteries, and new equipment to ensure the technological superiority of the Taiwanese air force over its Chinese counterpart.

Administration officials said later that Taiwan would get six Patriot 3 batteries.

Officials added that US and Taiwan were discussing the possible sale of submarine-hunting P-3 Orion aircraft and advanced Aegis battle-management radar for battleships.

The Clinton administration decided in recent days that the House could pass this Bill, causing a serious diplomatic flap.

It launched an intense behind-the-scenes effort to delay action on the proposal or, if that failed, to rewrite it to make it less offensive to China and the administration. Business lobbyists have joined in making this case. -- The Washington Post


THE ACT: Deepening military ties

THE Bill would require the Clinton administration to:

* Upgrade the nation's military relationship with Taiwan.
* Establish a new communications link between the two armed forces.
* Encourage the sale of more advanced equipment to Taiwan, including a ballistic missile defence system as it is developed.
* Require the executive branch to report all of Taiwan's requests for arms to Congress.


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