US lawmakers on Friday introduced the “Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act” to rename Taiwan’s representative office in the US and issue Taiwanese diplomats diplomatic visas to bolster ties between Taipei and Washington.
US representatives Brad Sherman, a Democrat, and Steve Chabot, a Republican, jointly proposed the act, and were joined by US representatives Gerry Connolly, Mario Diaz-Balart, Albio Sires and Ken Buck in introducing it.
In a statement, Sherman and Chabot said that it is US policy to refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan,” not “Taipei” or “Chinese Taipei,” which is why in 2019 the Coordination Council for North American Affairs was renamed the Taiwan Council for US Affairs.
The council is the counterpart to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy in Taiwan.
“Following this longstanding policy, the Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act directs the Secretary of State to enter into negotiations with the Taiwan Council for US Affairs to rename the council’s office in Washington, DC, the Taiwan Representative Office in the United States,” the congressmen said in the statement, referring to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO).
“Taiwan is an important democratic ally of the United States. Yet, it would be surprising for most Americans to know that Taiwan’s office in Washington still includes ‘Taipei’ in its name,” Sherman said.
“This bill simply says that it is time for the State Department, and Congress, to take action to elevate our relationship with Taiwan. We should also be taking action to encourage more robust engagement between US and Taiwanese officials,” he added.
The Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act also includes the Taiwan Envoy Act, which Sherman and Chabot introduced in 2019 to require that the US Senate confirm AIT directors.
“By changing TECRO’s name to the Taiwan Representative Office and making the director of the AIT Senate confirmable, we will reaffirm the US commitment to robust relations with Taiwan,” Sherman said.
The US does not issue diplomatic visas to Taiwanese officials and diplomats, who instead receive investor visas, a practice that does not accurately represent their role in the US as official representatives of Taiwan, the statement said.
The Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act would create a new visa category for Taiwanese officials in the US, which would pave the way for closer ties between US and Taiwanese officials, the statement said.
The act would “ensure that Taiwan’s representatives here are accorded the dignity they deserve” and “strengthen congressional oversight over Taiwan policy.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday in a statement thanked the US representatives for working across party lines to adopt various measures friendly to Taiwan.
The ministry would watch the bill’s development and maintain close contact with its friends in the US Congress as well as the US administration, to steadily improve bilateral relations, it added.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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