Bill reauthorizes Markey’s 2018 Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) through 2026, authorizes the Taiwan Fellowship Act, and calls for a Climate Resilience Strategy
Washington (April 21, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, announced the inclusion of key initiatives in the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, passed today by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Strategic Competition Act makes investments in areas of strategic importance to the United States and takes steps to reaffirm U.S leadership in the Indo-Pacific in the areas of human rights, building alliances, combatting climate change and building resilience, countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and strengthening democratic governance, among other issues.
Senator Markey successfully led efforts to include provisions in several key areas of importance to United States’ interests, values, and security, such as:
  • Increasing the annual investment through ARIA by $500 million to a total of $3 billion per year and extending authorization of such appropriations an additional three years—through 2026—for activities in the Indo-Pacific including strengthening democratic governance, anti-corruption efforts, natural resource management, tackling environmental and security challenges, maritime cooperation, bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagement in the region, and countering threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
  • Increasing oversight of United States government efforts to combat the illicit fentanyl and opioid trade originating from the PRC by instituting reporting and briefing requirements.
  • Advancing the Taiwan Fellowship Act, co-led by Senator Rubio, which establishes a fellowship exchange program for U.S. federal government employees to learn, live, and work in Taiwan for a time period up to two years.
  • Calling on the Secretary of State, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to facilitate a robust interagency Indo-Pacific climate resiliency and adaptation strategy.
  • Standing up a Quad Intra-Parliamentary Working Group in cooperation with Senator Young to link legislators from the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, collectively known as the “Quad,” to facilitate progress in combating climate change, delivering vaccines to those in need, and facilitating other areas of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Increasing funding for Radio Free Asia by over 50% to $70 million a year through 2026 to expand its services to reach audiences within China that do not have access to free and independent media. Radio Free Asia broadcasts in nine languages – including in Mandarin, Tibetan, Cantonese, and Uyghur – delivering highly syndicated reporting that breaks the Chinese Government’s information firewall.
  • Mandating a report on China’s supply of ballistic missiles or sensitive technology to Saudi Arabia or any other country. Based on Senator Markey’s SAUDI WMD ACT, this provision requires transparency into Saudi Arabia’s activities in light of press reporting that it received cooperation from China in the construction of a ballistic missile facility and an unsafeguarded nuclear facility. 
“Today we traded ‘America First’ for ‘America Invests’ in the Indo-Pacific, with significant investments in a range of issues that strengthen our position across the region. I am pleased the Committee has expanded and extended the landmark investments authorized in the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which I wrote with Senator Cory Gardner in 2018 to ensure that the United States maintains an active presence in the region, rooted in universal values and a commitment to our alliances and partnerships,” said Chairman Markey.  “To compete, we have to be present, which is why I was proud that the bill included my Taiwan Fellowship Act, to allow our best and brightest public servants to live, study, and train in the Indo Pacific. My amendment to burnish Radio Free Asia’s funding will ensure that their independent and credible reporting, which is needed now more than ever, will counter-act the Chinese Government’s state-controlled media which spreads misinformation within and outside its borders. I’m proud of the committee’s support for increased investments to expand RFA coverage to Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and others against the backdrop of media censorship by Beijing. 
“China is also reportedly spreading sensitive ballistic missile and nuclear technology to other countries including Saudi Arabia whose leaders have pledged to seek a nuclear weapon if Iran were to acquire one. I’m pleased that the bill included my provision requiring transparency into China’s illicit transfers so we can pump the breaks on a Middle East arms race before one can begin.”
“We know the Indo-Pacific is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions when it comes to the impacts of climate change and United States security and strategic interests will continue to be threatened due to rising sea levels, warming oceans, and extreme weather events. My amendment supports a robust Indo-Pacific climate resiliency and adaptation strategy to ensure we’re preparing for the climate reality we face. Moreover, the Quad Intra-Parliamentary Group will sustain and expand cooperation between the United States and the other three democracies of the Quad to tackle the climate crisis, as well as authoritarianism and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“More must be done to combat the production and exportation of chemicals used to make fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic opioids, many which originate in China. The U.S. government must work with China to expand controls on these chemicals and allow an expanded DEA presence to ensure dangerous, uncontrolled substances are not being trafficked into the United States and further exacerbating the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, and around the country.”
“I thank the Committee for leading on this important effort; there are many provisions in this bill that will cement United States leadership and make Americans safer. However, there are aspects of this legislation that still need more work, including provisions related to educational institutions and North Korea in particular. I look forward to working with my colleagues as this process continues to address these outstanding items.”