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International relations

US House passes pro-Taiwan bills amid trade tensions with China

Lawmakers also back measure urging island to increase spending on defense

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen appears with Paul Ryan, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, at an event in Taipei last month. The House on Tuesday approved a nonbinding resolution reaffirming U.S. commitment to Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of Taiwan Presidential Office)   © AP

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- 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 monthslong trade negotiations. China said on Tuesday that 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 nonbinding 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 military 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 U.S.

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

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