Thursday (September 15th): Mendendez for Taiwan 

Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey). Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Name? Bob Menendez

Westphalian identity? US American

Age? 68

Why is he in the news? Robert Menendez is the Democratic chairman in the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate. He is also one of the sponsors of the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, which got approved by the committee yesterday. The Taiwan Policy Act would significantly change language and military aid which concerns Taipei and has bipartisan support in Congress.

Why do we care? US military support for Taiwan has existed since 1979 when they adopted their one-China policy. The new bill pushed by Menendez expands the US’ unofficial relationship with Taiwan to one like any other foreign government and promises $4.5B in military aid over four years. More importantly, it codifies possible sanctions against China if they “knowingly” escalate against Taiwan.

Why should you care? There have been some significant developments in US foreign policy surrounding Taiwan in the past few months. Menendez stated that the US must be proactive to lower risks for Taiwan. The Taiwan Policy Act would be a deliberate break from the strategic ambiguity of the US. Although it does not recognise Taiwan’s sovereignty, the bill would make them a major non-NATO ally; and expand the kind of weapons that the US could supply. But, as the bill is still in its infancy, you should only care 5/10.

Who else cares? Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s office has released a statement with China’s discontent with the prospect of this bill. This comes after Mendendez and Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen exchanged visits earlier this year. A spokesperson declared that this bill will damage Sino-US relations, and it would be ‘prudent’ to maintain their policy status quo.

Any further comments? The bill still has to pass the Senate and the House votes in order to be sent to the White House, but seeing from the committee’s 17-5 vote and congressional bipartisan support, Biden’s potential veto could be overridden.

Francia Morales

Editor in Chief for Research and Analysis