More than 20 members of the US Congress on Monday in a joint letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “updated guidelines for relations with Taiwan” to end restrictions that impede Taiwan-US relations.
US Representative Guy Reschenthaler on Thursday shared the letter on Twitter, showing that it was endorsed by 26 other Congress members.
“Currently, the world is struggling to address a pandemic exacerbated by the Chinese Communist Party, a crisis in which Taiwan has demonstrated its value as a US ally and international force for good,” the letter read. “US-Taiwan relations have never been more important. However, to our knowledge, unnecessarily restrictive guidelines put in place by the prior administration continue to impede our bilateral relationship.”
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuen, Taipei Times
The letter appears to be referring to guidelines from former US president Barack Obama in 2015, which prohibited Taiwanese diplomats and military personnel from displaying the national flag on US government property, prompted by an incident in January 2015 when Taiwan’s representative office in the US raised the national flag at Twin Oaks estate in Washington, the former residence of Republic of China ambassadors to the US.
“We believe our interactions with Taiwan should strengthen the US-Taiwan relationship in the areas of trade, defense, technology supply chains, democratic norms, personal liberties and other substantive areas of cooperation,” it said.
“Existing restrictions on various aspects of US-Taiwan relations, including those for travel, government-to-government meetings and media, are inconsistent with these principles and not required by the Taiwan Relations Act or relevant policies,” it said.
Although US President Donald Trump in 2018 signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law, “it appears that high-level US visits have not increased,” the letter said.
The Congress members asked Pompeo to review such restrictive guidelines and “provide us with the guidelines currently in place.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) thanked the Congress members for their support, adding that the government would continue to maintain close communication with the US based on the principles of mutual trust and reciprocity, in a bid to deepen Taiwan-US ties.
In other news, the ministry reaffirmed its 63-year relationship with Paraguay — the nation’s only diplomatic ally in South America, after the Americas Quarterly on Thursday reported that allies in that country are facing increasing pressure to end the relationship.
The Paraguayan Senate last month voted 25 to 16 against a proposal by opposition and pro-China senators to switch ties from Taipei to Beijing, it said.
However, the debate is not over, especially when Paraguayan farmers fear exclusion from the Chinese market and Taiwan’s supporters in that country might have to justify not recognizing the world’s second-largest economy, it said.
Taiwan’s embassy in Paraguay would continue to communicate with senators to clarify their doubts about bilateral ties, Ou said.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Taiwan has donated masks and thermal imaging cameras to help Paraguay’s disease prevention efforts, she said, adding that the nation would discuss other feasible aid with the Paraguayan government.
Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez has on multiple occasions voiced support for deepening bilateral ties, she said, adding that many bilateral projects for boosting Paraguayan civic life are conducted smoothly.
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