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FIRST ON FOX: Congressional Republicans are preparing to introduce legislation creating a “lend-lease” military aid program for Taiwan to ward off increased belligerence from Communist China.
The bill, which is the brainchild of House GOP Rep. Michelle Steel and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, is modeled after an early 1940s program that allowed the U.S. government to bolster European Allies without having to directly enter World War II itself.
“The Chinese Communist Party continues to intimidate and pressure our ally and the United States should always be on the side of freedom and democracy,” said Steel, R-Calif.
Rep.-elect Michelle Steel, R-Calif., defeated Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., for the 48th Congressional District seat. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News)
The bill would authorize the president to lend or lease weapons and military equipment to the Taiwan. In exchange, the country’s government is required to repay the cost of “restoring or replacing” the borrowed weapons over a 12-year time frame.
The bill does stipulate that the White House can opt to renegotiate the repayment sum if it deems the money would take away from the national security of both Taiwan and the U.S.
“Taiwan is our greatest partner in the Indo-Pacific region, and their continued sovereignty is essential to challenging the New Axis of Evil,” said Blackburn, R-TN. “Taiwan should know that the United States will support them with defense supplies – including weapons and machinery – regardless of what the Chinese Communist Party says.”
(Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.)
The bill is already garnering bipartisan support within Congress. It comes as the communist regime in Beijing has upped its harassment of neighboring Taiwan.
China has increasingly launched military exercises close to Taiwan’s coast, while warplanes from Beijing have violated the country’s air defense space. One such military exercise took place in April while a bipartisan group of U.S. officials was visiting Taiwan on an official trip.
The tactics have forced Taiwan to scramble its military to counteract while the island nations’ people have been subject to air raid drills and other safety precautions.
Members of Congress say that the federal government needs to send a strong signal to China that aggression against a U.S. ally will not stand.
Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan March 27, 2018. ((REUTERS/Tyrone Siu))
“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill in Congress to show the CCP that we will not back down from supporting our allies,” said Steel.
Taiwan’s official representative to the U.S. told Fox News Digital that it welcomed any help in its fight for freedom.
“We appreciate Congress’ effort to seek creative avenues to strengthen Taiwan’s defense capabilities,” said Representative Bi-khim Hsiao. “Taiwan is determined to defend our freedom and democratic way of life, and we will continue to work with the U.S. and like-minded partners to uphold the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Earlier this year Congress, voted to in a bipartisan manner resurrect the lend-lease program to aid Ukraine as it battles an invasion by Russia. Lawmakers hope the same will feat will be accomplished to aid Taiwan in its hour of need.
In recent weeks, tensions have grown between China and the U.S. over the communist regime’s treatment of Taiwan. The situation only escalated when China warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., against visiting Taiwan this summer.