The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2022 said the invitation would complement US efforts to support the self-governing democratic island in the face of China’s “increasingly coercive and aggressive behavior”.
The NDAA authorizes deductions for national security programs in the United States Departments of Defense, Energy, and State. Section 1246 of the act refers to Taiwan, which split from mainland China more than 70 years ago but is considered part of its territory by Beijing and whose leader Xi Jinping has vowed to place under its rule. Chinese control.
Washington has been committed to ensuring the island’s autonomy since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which allows the US to provide Taipei with the means to defend itself against aggression from Beijing.
Citing that 1979 law, NDAA 2022 states that “the United States should continue to assist in the development of the capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain adequate self-defence, “including “where appropriate, inviting Taiwan to participate in the Rim of the Pacific exercises to be conducted in 2022.”
The large-scale exercise is expected to take place next summer with the participation of more than 48 military units from 20 countries and 25,000 service members, according to a December statement from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet. America in San Diego, RIMPAC watchdog.
The US Navy has not disclosed specific invitations to RIMPAC 2022, but a potential invitation to Taiwan would be the first to be extended to the island. Any potential invitation can take many forms, from ships or planes to a handful of observers.
The US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii on Tuesday responded to a request for comment on a possible Taiwan invitation.
“RIMPAC’s participation is a political statement as well as a career opportunity. The invitation, if it goes on, marks Taiwan as a friend and partner of the United States,” said Carl Schuster, former chief of operations. of the United States Pacific Command. Center, who called the NDAA language “a powerful political-strategic statement rooted in China’s growing aggression toward Taiwan” and other nations in the Indo-Thai region. Binh Duong.
Any involvement by Taiwan in RIMPAC, Schuster said, would “send a strong political signal to Beijing that its behavior has created this and raises the potential costs if it chooses to take the path of aggression.” military strategy”.
The US has used previous RIMPAC exercises as an effort to ease tensions with China, inviting People’s Liberation Army units to participate in 2014 and 2016, when the PLA Navy dispatched five ships and More than 1,200 soldiers participated in the battle.
Asked on Tuesday about the China sections of the NDAA, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing opposes using what it calls “domestic law” to try to “manipulate politics” in relation to China.
“We call on the US to abandon zero-sum thinking and outdated ideological prejudices during the Cold War,” Zhao said.
Schuster said the inclusion of Taiwan in the RIMPAC would help the US Navy prepare for any eventuality around the island.
“This is a (potential) opportunity to train alongside Taiwanese naval units and personnel, gaining relationships and knowledge that could be crucial if China decides to do so,” he said. attack Taiwan.
However, he warned any presence of Taiwanese military units at RIMPAC could cause divisions among other participants.
“As it sends a strong political signal to China, Beijing will pressure many of Asia’s traditional participants, such as South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, to decline the invitation or from refused to participate in exercises with Taiwanese units. Think of China’s strong response to political signals,” he said.
RIMPAC 2022 will be the 28th edition of the event. The United States, Australia and Canada established the exercise in 1971 as an annual event, but in 1974 the exercise was changed to a biennial because many countries were invited to participate, according to the Navy. US army.