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Fate of U.S. aid to Ukraine package discussed on Taiwan trip, lawmakers say

Mike Gallagher of the US House of Representatives (L) shakes hands with Taiwan’s Parliament Speaker Han Kuo-yu from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), at the Parliament in Taipei on Feb.22, 2024. The chairman of the US House of Representatives committee on China said on February 22 that support in his country’s legislature for Taiwan was “extremely strong”, after a meeting with the self-ruled island’s top leadership.

Sam Yeh | Afp | Getty Images

A stalled U.S. bill on military aid to Ukraine which will also help fund weapons for Taiwan was discussed this week during a visit to Taipei by U.S. lawmakers, two of the participants said on Friday.

The Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, has so far blocked passage of the bill that includes $60 billion in new funding for Ukraine. Former Republican President Donald Trump opposes aid for Kyiv.

The bill would also spend almost $2.6 billion on efforts to deter China. Most of that money, about $1.9 billion, would be to replace U.S. munitions provided to Taiwan.

China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory ignoring the strong objections of the government in Taipei, and has been ramping up military pressure to assert those claims.

Senate passes $95B aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democratic member of the House select committee on China, told reporters at the end of a visit to Taiwan it was vital to pass the bill.

“Every single meeting we had in Taiwan focused on Ukraine for at least part of the meeting. It was in conjunction with our discussion of the supplemental appropriations package,” he said.

“We have to beat back this criminal invasion by Putin to send a message to anyone else including Xi Jinping about Taiwan,” Krishnamoorthi added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin whose forces invaded Ukraine two years ago, and China’s leader Xi.

The lawmakers meetings in Taipei included President Tsai Ing-wen and president-elect Lai Ching-te, who won election last month and takes office in May.

The committee’s chair, Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher who is leading the delegation Krishnamoorthi is on, said what happened to Ukraine mattered to Taiwan.

“One take way from this trip is, for those who suggest we cannot provide lethal assistance to Ukraine because we need those resources in Taiwan, I think you have to contend with the fact that the leaders of Taiwan certainly don’t want us to abandon Ukraine,” he said.

“The outcome there does matter for cross-strait deterrence. I’m not saying it’s decisive for it, but it’s at least correlated.”

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is its most important international backer and supplier of arms, though there is a large backlog of orders, like for Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Krishnamoorthi said the funding bill also invests in the U.S. military industrial base to be able to provide a platform to deal with that backlog.

“This supplemental appropriations is not only crucial for sending a message, not only for deterrence, but also for repairing our industrial base and clearing up the backlog,” he said.

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