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Analysis: U.S. Defense Bill Allocates Significant Funds to Counter China’s Maritime Claims

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President Joe Biden signed a $886 billion defense bill on December 19, 2023, investing $16 billion to oppose China’s maritime claims. The 2024 National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate 87-13 and the House 310-118 after contentious aspects like Ukraine funding, abortion, and transgender legislation were deleted.

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U.S. Defense Bill Allocates Billions for Pacific Deterrence and Indo-Pacific Initiatives Against China

The law gives the Pacific Deterrence Initiative $14.7 billion, exceeding the Pentagon’s $9.1 billion request. This strategy strengthens U.S. defenses in Hawaii and Guam to deter China. An additional $1.3 billion supports Indo-Pacific Campaigning Initiative exercises and activities in response to China’s sovereignty claims.

Australia and Britain can buy U.S. defense technologies without permits under the defense bill, which also allows the export of nuclear-powered submarines. The AUKUS security pact’s “Pillar 1” and “Pillar 2” were scrutinized but approved with bipartisan backing. However, licensing exemptions require “comparable” export limitations from Australia and the UK.

The Act provides an unprecedented 5.2 percent salary raise for military members and increases troop allowances and housing subsidies. It funds the “Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative,” which opposes China’s maritime sovereignty claims, and trains and advises Taiwan’s military.

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U.S. Defense Bill Garners Bipartisan Support, Addressing Concerns and Prioritizing Indo-Pacific Resistance Against China

The package answers both parties’ concerns, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it a bipartisan solution. President Biden expressed some objections but stressed the bill’s important goals in developing a deterrent military.

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi stressed the AUKUS clauses’ importance in opposing Chinese Communist Party maritime claims. A free and open Indo-Pacific area and stronger U.S. partnerships are expected with the acceptance of both pillars.

In addition to maritime deterrence, the defense law prioritizes Taiwan’s military training and Indo-Pacific awareness. Representative Mike Gallagher stressed the bill’s focus on the biggest military concerns, notably potential wars with China over Taiwan. The Act supports military forces financially and strategically to resist China’s Indo-Pacific expansion.

READ ALSO: US Defense Bill Spends Big Against China’s Maritime Claims – Analysis

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