September 5, 2018 / 7:00 PM / a month ago

U.S. senators introduce bill to help Taiwan keep its allies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican and Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation on Wednesday to discourage Taiwan’s few remaining allies from switching their allegiance to China, after El Salvador became the third country this year to move towards Beijing.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) faces reporters following a Republican policy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The legislation, introduced by Republican Senators Cory Gardner and Marco Rubio and Democrats Ed Markey and Bob Menendez, would authorise the State Department to downgrade U.S. relations with any government that shifts away from Taiwan, and to suspend or alter U.S. assistance.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asks a question of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during Pompeo's appearance before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled "An Update on American Diplomacy to Advance Our National Security Strategy" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

It also requires a U.S. strategy to engage with governments to support Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition or strengthen unofficial ties with Taiwan.

Gardner, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Asia subcommittee, discussed his plans for the legislation in an interview with Reuters last week.

The State Department had said the United States was “deeply disappointed” by El Salvador’s decision and was reviewing its relationship with San Salvador, without elaborating further.

Washington does not recognise Taipei diplomatically but considers it a staunch ally in the Pacific Rim. Several members of Congress, who see Beijing as a threat to U.S. security and international influence, have expressed frustration with what they see as President Donald Trump’s failure to adopt a strategy for Taiwan.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell

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