US President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law H.R. 1151 — an act concerning participation of Taiwan in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) — and announced the US government’s full support for Taiwan’s participation in the organization.
While signing the act into law, Obama also issued a statement saying that Washington fully supports Taiwan becoming part of international organizations where statehood is not a requirement for membership and encourages the nation’s meaningful participation — where appropriate — in organizations of which it cannot be a member.
The US administration has publicly supported Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO and will continue to do so, the statement said.
“Consistent with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs, my Administration shall construe the Act to be consistent with the ‘one China’ policy of the United States, which remains unchanged, and shall determine the measures best suited to advance the overall goal of Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO,” Obama said in the statement.
The US president said that some sections of the act contain impermissibly mandatory language purporting to direct the US Secretary of State to undertake certain diplomatic initiatives and to report to the US Congress on the progress of those initiatives.
“Consistent with longstanding constitutional practice, my Administration will interpret and implement these sections in a manner that does not interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy and to protect the confidentiality of diplomatic communications,” Obama said in the statement.
The US House of Representatives and the US Senate each passed resolutions supporting Taiwan’s ICAO bid earlier this month. As their versions were the same, the two chambers moved quickly to pass the bill.
US Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who initiated the senatorial resolution, said that the signing into law of the act marks a step forward in Taiwan’s pursuit of ICAO participation. Menendez added that he believes Taiwan will contribute greatly to the aviation organization and its bid should not be turned down.
US Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who introduced the legislation, has previously said Taiwan’s exclusion from the ICAO is extremely disadvantageous to the millions of passengers flying between Taiwan and the US annually.
The number of people traveling between the two countries is expected to increase significantly after Taiwanese nationals were granted visa-free entry to the US last year.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) yesterday expressed the Republic of China government’s gratitude to Obama for singing the act into law, describing it as a positive development.
Congress finalizing the legislation and Obama signing it into law showed that the US’ administrative, legislative and local governments all support Taiwan’s ICAO bid, Kao added.
Kao said the ICAO is scheduled to hold a meeting in Montreal, Canada, in September and the ministry is devising a strategy for it.