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US House Passes Bills in Support of Taiwan

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen waves as she boards the Coast Guard's 3,000-ton class Yilan patrol vessel before Hai-an No. 10 maritime exercises, Taipei Port, New Taipei City, Taiwan, May 4, 2019. The U.S. House showed its support for Taiwan, passing to measures Tuesday.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously backed legislation supporting Taiwan, which faces military and diplomatic pressure from China, as members of the U.S. Congress push for a sharper approach to relations with Beijing.

The House passed the measures as Washington and Beijing continue months-long trade negotiations. China said Tuesday that China’s Vice Premier Liu He, would travel to Washington for talks this week, setting up a last-ditch bid for a deal that would avoid a steep increase in tariffs ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The House voted 414-0 for a non-binding resolution reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Taiwan.

It also backed by unanimous voice vote the “Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019,” which supports Taiwan and urges it to increase its defense spending, noting Washington should conduct “regular sales and defense articles” to Taiwan and backing Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.

There was no word on when the Assurance Act might come up for a vote in the Senate, which would be necessary before it could become law.

Both measures reflect U.S. concern over any efforts by Beijing to influence Taiwan. Washington has no formal ties with Taipei, but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.

Beijing regards Taiwan as its sacred territory and regularly calls it the most sensitive and important issue in ties with the United States.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has also scheduled five hearings this week on the relationship between the United States and China.