January 4, 2013 (TSR) – U.S. President Barack Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization Act of the 2013 fiscal year, the White House said on Thursday.
According to the White House, Obama signed the bill while vacationing in Hawaii. In a statement, Obama said while he supports the vast majority of the provisions contained in the act, he does not agree with them all, including Congress’ refusal to let Pentagon retire unneeded ships and aircraft, as well as limits on the military to transfer detainees at the Guantanamo detention facility.
The president also complained certain provisions in the bill could “interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States,” and said his administration would interpret and implement these provisions in a manner that “does not interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy.”
The sweeping bill covers the Pentagon’s cost of ships, aircraft, weapons and military personnel as well as the war efforts in Afghanistan. It consists of 528 billion dollars for the Defense Department’s base budget, 17 billion dollars for defense and nuclear programs in the Energy Department and 88 billion dollars for overseas war costs.
The measure also tightens sanctions on Iran, increases security for U.S. diplomatic missions after the attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and contains language regarding the conflict in Syria, requesting the Pentagon to report to Congress on possible military options.
The budget also has two controversial sections relating to arms sales to Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands, which are China’s inherent territories. The two clauses are both written as “sense of Senate, ” which means they have no binding power over the president.
The bill passed the Congress amid chaos over the fiscal cliff negotiations late last year, and was delivered to the White House over the weekend. Obama took it with him to Hawaii when he left town after clinching the fiscal cliff deal.
China firmly opposes U.S. congress defense authorization bill
Last month, China voiced firm opposition on December 23 to contents concerning the country in a defense authorization bill approved by the U.S. congress.
The bill contains sections relating to the Diaoyu Islands and Taiwan.
In a written statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “China is deeply concerned and firmly opposed to the contents concerning China in the 2013 Defense Authorization Act.”
Hua said the country holds a clear and consistent position on the Diaoyu Islands issue, reiterating that the island and its affiliated islets have always been the inherent territory of China since ancient times.
She referred the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan as a “bilateral arrangement in a specific historical time,” noting that such a pact should not harm the interests of any third parties including China, nor be involved in any foreign territorial disputes.
The spokeswoman also pointed out that China is firmly opposed to arms sales to Taiwan by any country, urging the politicians in the U.S. congress to abandon their cold war mentality, adhere to the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and respect China’s key national interests.
“They should do more to facilitate regional peace and stability, and help the stable growth of ties between China and the United States as well as the ones across the Taiwan Strait,” Hua added.
The U.S. Senate approved the 2013 Defense Authorization Act with an 81-14 margin last month.
It contains controversial sections relating to the Diaoyu Islands and arms sales to Taiwan. The two clauses are both written as “sense of Congress,” which means they have no binding power over the president.
Section 1281 of the bill said, “it is the sense of Congress that… the president should take steps to address Taiwan’s shortfall in fighter aircraft, whether through the sale of F-16 C/D aircraft or other aircraft of similar capability.”
Section 1286 said, “it is the sense of Congress that” although the U.S. side takes no position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, it “acknowledges the administration of Japan” over them.