Date: May 15, 2018
By: Joe Gould
WASHINGTON — The U.S. should forge stronger military ties with Taiwan and add $7.5 billion in national defense spending in the Pacific region in order to counter Chinese influence in the region, according to a legislative proposal from four U.S. senators.
The bipartisan Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, or ARIA, would authorize $1.5 billion annually for five years to deter and defend against China. A mix of State Department and Defense Department funds would bolster the U.S. military presence and readiness in the region, improving defense infrastructure and critical munitions stockpiles.
The bill would also support regular arms sales to Taiwan, and fund the enforcement of freedom-of-navigation and overflight rights — moves to defy Beijing’s calls to keep out of the contested South China Sea.
CNBC reported this month that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its outposts in the South China Sea.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Cory Gardner, chairs the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity. he said the idea had originally come from Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and that he would work with appropriators to see it funded. [FULL STORY]