The government yesterday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s signing into law of the Taiwan Travel Act, which pledges to deepen the mutually beneficial partnership between the two nations.
Trump signed the act on Friday, when it went into effect. It aims to allow high-level visits between Taiwanese and US government officials.
The act, which serves as a follow-up to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, allows “officials at all levels of the United States Government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.”
It also allows “high-level officials of Taiwan to enter the United States, under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with officials of the United States, including officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense and other Cabinet agencies.”
The bill was introduced in January last year by US Representative Steve Chabot, and cosponsored by US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce and US Representative Brad Sherman.
It was submitted to Trump on Monday last week following its unanimous passage in the US House on Jan. 9 and the US Senate on Feb. 28.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it sincerely welcomed the act, and expressed gratitude for the goodwill and support by the US executive and legislative branches.
“The act encourages the US government to increase the level of official exchanges and communications between Taipei and Washington, paving the way for strengthened Taiwan-US ties,” the ministry said.
The Taiwan-US relationship has grown stronger over the years, particularly after Trump’s inauguration in January last year, thanks to frequent visits to Taiwan by senior US officials to engage in business, cultural, educational and Global Cooperation and Training Framework events, the ministry said.
The framework was signed by the two sides in 2015 to lay out plans for cooperation in areas including international humanitarian assistance, public health, environmental protection, energy and technology.
“We will continue to keep in close contact with Washington and deepen our cooperative partnership in all areas and at all levels based on the principles of mutual trust and reciprocity,” the ministry said.
Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) also thanked Trump for signing the act into law, saying that Taipei would cooperate closely with the executive branch of the US government to develop stronger ties.
“The US is our important ally. We sincerely thank [it for] the firm support that has been shown to us from various sectors of US society,” Lin said.
Taiwan would continue to work with the US to build a solid cooperative partnership to maintain regional peace and stability, Lin added.
The act describes Taiwan as “a beacon of democracy” in Asia, and states that “Taiwan’s democratic achievements inspire many countries and people in the region.”
In Washington, Stanley Kao (高碩泰), Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., said he is looking forward to more interaction between the two countries.
The representative office is making it its mission to deepen Taiwan-U.S. relations through these potential high-level official exchange visits, he noted.
Senator Jim Inhofe welcomed the move, saying that high-level meetings “remain extremely valuable, especially as China continues their unprecedented reclamation in the South China Sea.”
He described the legislation as “an important tool as we continue to ensure Taiwan has the ability to defend itself and remains a committed US partner in the region.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, expressing Beijing’s strong dissatisfaction with Trump’s action, was quoted by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency as saying: “The relevant clauses of the Taiwan Travel Act severely violate the ‘one China’ principle.”
The spokesperson went on to urge the US to “stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way.”
Additional reporting by AFP and CNA
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