TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs advanced the Taiwan Travel Act on Thursday that gives a green light to the visits between U.S. and Taiwanese officials at whatever levels, setting to mark a milestone in U.S.-Taiwan relations since 1979, when the visits of high-level officials between the two sides became footed on an unofficial basis.
In 1979, Washington shifted diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan today, to China, and ever since the U.S. has maintained unofficial diplomatic ties with Taiwan and a self-imposed restriction on high-level visits with Taiwan.
The act will allow officials at all levels of the U.S. government to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States under respectful conditions and to meet with U.S. officials and encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan, to conduct business in the United States.
The U.S. officials stated in the act include those from the Department of State and the Department of Defense, according to the website of Congress.
The act can become a law after both the House and Senate pass the bill and U.S. President Donald Trump signs it into law.
Strong pressure from China is expected to be the biggest hurdle facing the bill, as the Chinese government is reportedly demanding Congress back off. The Chinese Embassy in Washington was said to have lodged a formal complaint with leading lawmakers and warned of “severe consequences” for the U.S.-China relationship if Congress follows through, the Washington Post reported.
Legislators of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) welcome the proposal. DPP legislator Wang Ting-yu said that the new law will normalize the high-level visits, which in turn will help ensure Asia-Pacific regional security.