The United States for decades has sold weapons to Taiwan. Picture used for illustrative purposes only.
The United States for decades has sold weapons to Taiwan but the new legislation will go further by providing US security assistance of $4.5 billion over four years, a step sure to infuriate Beijing.
It also lays out sanctions on China if it uses force to try to seize the island.
With support from both parties, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Taiwan Policy Act, billed as the most sweeping upgrade of the relationship since the United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Lawmakers moved ahead on the act amid heightened worries for Taiwan after Russia invaded Ukraine and following a visit to Taipei by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which prompted China to stage major military exercises seen as a trial run for an invasion.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) waves beside Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei. File/AFP
Senator Bob Menendez, a member of Biden's Democratic Party who leads the committee, said that the United States "does not seek war or heightened tensions with Beijing" but needed to be "clear-eyed."
"We are carefully and strategically lowering the existential threats facing Taiwan by raising the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high a risk and unachievable," Menendez said.
Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the committee, said it was "imperative we take action now to bolster Taiwan's self-defense before it's too late."
The bill still must clear the full Senate and House. The White House has not said whether President Joe Biden will sign the bill, although the strong support it has may mean Congress could override any potential veto.
The office of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday said it expressed "sincere gratitude" to the United States "for once again demonstrating its bipartisan friendship and support for Taiwan."
The statement issued by the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office and its news department followed almost a week of missile firings and incursions into Taiwanese waters and airspace by Chinese warships and air force planes.
Relations between the two superpowers have nosedived in the wake of Pelosi's trip to China's self-ruled neighbour — which it claims as its territory — prompting calls from the UN for an urgent de-escalation of tensions.
China’s accelerated military modernisation poses a clear and growing threat to Taiwan, and US intervention might only risk intensifying pressure from Beijing, US defence officials say. Washington’s top US military officer in Asia-Pacific Admiral Philip
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She added that immediately after the operation, she had severe bleeding and blood accumulation in the neck, after which she was admitted to intensive care for two days.