U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed into law a $778 billion defense spending bill that includes further investment in beefing up deterrence in the Indo-Pacific amid China’s rise and a statement of support for the defense of Taiwan.
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022 through next September authorizes about 5 percent more in spending than last year’s budget. It also earmarks $7.1 billion for the “Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” a more than three-fold increase from fiscal 2021.
The defense spending focuses on “the most vital national security priorities” for the United States, including strategic competition with China and Russia as well as disruptive technologies such as hypersonic weapons and artificial intelligence, among other issues, according to a summary by the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington on Dec. 21, 2021. (Getty/Kyodo)
The law also requires the president to come up with a “grand strategy” on China to address the challenges to the international order posed by Beijing, and bans the Defense Department’s procurement of products allegedly made by the forced labor of the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang region.
In the latest show of support for Taiwan, which faces increasing military pressure from China, the law includes a statement that the U.S. policy should be to maintain capacity to resist a “fait accompli” against Taipei, referring to Beijing resorting to force to invade and seize control of the island.
China on Tuesday criticized the Biden administration, saying the United States should abandon its outdated “Cold War” mentality and ideological prejudice.
Beijing called on Washington not to “harm China’s interests and the overall situation of relations and cooperation” between the two countries, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 amid a civil war. Beijing has since endeavored to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland by force if necessary.
The United States is committed to its “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the “sole legal government of China,” but allows unofficial ties with Taiwan and assistance to the island in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.
In the National Defense Authorization Act, Congress also expresses its desire that U.S. support to Taiwan will include inviting the island to participate in a U.S.-led major multinational naval exercise in 2022.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, started in 1971 and has been held nearly every two years. It is now regarded as the world’s biggest multinational naval exercise.
China joined the exercise in 2014 and 2016, but was disinvited by the United States starting in 2018 due to Beijing’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea.
Last year’s drill off Hawaii was a scaled-down version due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a total of 10 countries including Japan and South Korea taking part, down from 26 when it was previously held in 2018.
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