《TAIPEI TIMES》 Ker, US lawmaker discuss ‘defense lend-lease act’

Democratic Progressive Party caucus convener Ker Chien-ming speaks with US Representative Michelle Steel in Taipei yesterday. Photo: screen grab from Ker Chien-ming’s Facebook account

2022/08/06 03:00

By Chen Cheng-yu and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, and staff writer

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and US Representative Michelle Steel yesterday discussed in a teleconference the US’ proposed “Taiwan democracy defense lend-lease act” and further economic collaborations between the two countries.

Ker said that Steel is a long-time supporter of Taiwan and has often urged the administration of US President Joe Biden to guarantee Taiwan’s safety, and praised Taiwan’s COVID-19 pandemic prevention efforts.

The bill, cosponsored by Steel along with US senators Marsha Blackburn and Rick Scott, would authorize the expedited lending or leasing of defense equipment to Taiwan.

In addition, the bill would allow the US to send weapons to Taiwan with a proposed 12-year window for repayment for their lending or leasing.

Taiwan thanked Steel and the two other lawmakers for supporting Taiwan, and for stepping outside the traditional “box” of arms sale packages to propose an innovative and meaningful bill, Ker said.

Current arms package processes are extremely complex, and the bill could bolster Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, Ker said, adding that he hoped the bill is supported in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Steel said she hoped the bill could clear Congress soon, adding that she had asked Biden in writing to authorize the Taiwan arms sales package quickly.

Ker told Steel during the call that, faced with Chinese aggression, Taiwan does not seek to escalate the situation nor provoke Beijing.

Still, Taiwan will not back away from defending itself, Ker said, adding: “The Taiwanese people have the confidence and the courage to defend our autonomy,” he added.

Ker and Steel also discussed increased opportunities to collaborate economically.

Steel voiced strong support for signing a US-Taiwan free-trade pact and Taiwan’s inclusion in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

Ker thanked Steel for her support and said that Taiwan’s strengths in its economy, trade, science research and development, and industry allow it to contribute to world affairs.

He also asked Steel to call for the US to support Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations.