Taiwan Travel Act
|Long title||An act to encourage visits between the United States and Taiwan at all levels, and for other purposes.|
|Enacted by||the 115th United States Congress|
|Public law||Pub.L. 115–135|
The Taiwan Travel Act (H.R. 535, Pub.L. 115–135) is an act of the United States Congress. Passed on February 28, 2018, it was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 16, 2018. As a follow-up to the Taiwan Relations Act, the bill allows high-level officials of the United States to visit Taiwan and vice versa.
When the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1979, it also ceased to officially recognize Taiwan but continued to maintain unofficial relations with the island. In the same year, the U.S. enacted the Taiwan Relations Act.
In 2016, the Taiwan Travel Act was introduced to the U.S. Congress by Representative Steve Chabot and Senator Marco Rubio; part of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively. The bill was considered a follow-up to the Taiwan Relations Act and stated that the U.S. and Taiwan had suffered from insufficient high-level communication since 1979, when the U.S. started to restrict its officials' visits to Taiwan.
In August 2017, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, sent a letter expressing "grave concern" to leaders of the House and Senate, demanding they block provisions related to Taiwan in the National Defense Authorization Act of that year, which included the Taiwan Travel Act as well as the Taiwan Security Act of 2017.
Provisions of the Taiwan Travel Act state that the U.S. should:
- Allow officials at all levels of the U.S. government to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts;
- Allow 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.
In January 2018, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her gratitude to the U.S. Congress for "supporting Taiwan’s democracy" through her Twitter account, stating she believed the Taiwan Travel Act would "strengthen and enhance the long-standing partnership between the two sides." Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also showed its support for the bill, saying Taiwan was "committed to fostering an upgraded strategic partnership with the U.S."
The Global Times quoted professor Li Haidong at the China Foreign Affairs University that "the U.S.' irresponsible move increas[ed] uncertainty and risks for bilateral ties and revers[ed] the gears of a stable and positive Sino-US relationship." Li also held that the Anti-Secession Law of China could be used to counter Washington's move.
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