Taiwan

US president signs Taiwan Travel Act

US president signs Taiwan Travel Act


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U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe says high-level meeting between Taiwan and U.S. “very valuable” as China continues to reclaim land in South China Sea

  • Author: Stacy Hsu / reporter of this magazine

The government yesterday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s signing of the Taiwan Travel Act, which promises to deepen a mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries.

Trump signed the bill into law on Friday, and it went into effect. It was designed to allow high-level exchange of visits between Taiwanese and U.S. government officials.

The act, a follow-up to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, allows “official officials at all levels of the U.S. government, including cabinet-level national security officials, generals, and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.”

Photo: CNA

It also allows “senior officials from Taiwan to enter the United States on conditions that demonstrate due respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with U.S. officials, including officials of the State Department and Department of Defense and other Cabinet agencies.”

The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot last January and was co-sponsored by U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman.

It was submitted to Trump last Monday after being unanimously passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 9 and in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 28.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its heartfelt welcome to the bill and its gratitude to the US executive and legislative branches for their goodwill and support.

“The bill encourages the U.S. government to increase the level of official exchanges and communication between Taipei and Washington, paving the way for stronger Taiwan-U.S. relations,” the ministry said.

Taiwan’s relationship with the United States has grown stronger over the years, especially after Trump’s inauguration last January, thanks to frequent visits by senior U.S. officials to Taiwan for business, culture, education and the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, which Department said.

The two sides signed the framework in 2015 to make plans for cooperation in the fields of international humanitarian assistance, public health, environmental protection, energy and science and technology.

“We will continue to maintain close ties with Washington and deepen our partnership in all fields and at all levels based on the principle of mutual trust and mutual benefit,” the ministry said.

Presidential spokesman Lin Heming also thanked Trump for signing the bill into law, saying Taipei would work closely with the executive branch of the U.S. government to develop stronger relationships.

“The United States is our valued ally. We sincerely thank [it for] The unwavering support for us from all walks of life in American society,” Lin said.

Lin added that Taiwan will continue to build a solid partnership with the United States to maintain regional peace and stability.

The bill describes Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy” in Asia and says “Taiwan’s democratic achievements have inspired many countries and peoples in the region.”

Kao Shuotai, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, said in Washington that he looked forward to more interaction between the two countries.

He pointed out that the mission of the representative office is to deepen Taiwan-US relations through these potential high-level official exchanges.

Senator Jim Inhofe welcomed the move, saying the high-level meeting “remains very valuable, especially as China continues its unprecedented reclamation in the South China Sea.”

He described the legislation as “an important tool as we continue to ensure that Taiwan is capable of defending itself and remains a staunch U.S. partner in the region.”

Meanwhile, Chinese state media Xinhua quoted a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington as saying: “The relevant provisions of the Taiwan Travel Act seriously violate the ‘one China’ principle.”

The spokesperson went on to urge the United States to “stop pursuing any official relationship with Taiwan or improve its current relationship with Taiwan in any substantive way.”

Additional reporting by AFP and CNA

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