US friendship grows thanks to TRA: envoy

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan and the U.S. have continued to build friendly ties based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA, �x�W���Y�k), the U.S. de facto ambassador to Taiwan said yesterday. Speaking during the opening ceremony of an exhibition on bilateral relations, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Christopher Marut cited the TRA as the cornerstone for bilateral relations over the past 35 years since it took effect in 1979. Quoting the words of Daniel Russel, assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, during a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 2014, Marut said Taiwan has earned a respected place in the world. �@��Thanks to the Taiwan Relations Act, over the past 35 years, the United States and Taiwan have enjoyed a firm foundation of friendship that we continue to build today,�� Maurt said. The AIT head noted that the exhibition features vintage photographs, historical documents and memorabilia, showcasing ��shared stories of success and challenges, and ways that the U.S. and Taiwan have worked together after the signing and enactment of the TRA.�� By holding the exhibition, Marut said AIT hopes to ��demonstrate the breadth of programs and engagement that both the U.S. and Taiwan put into this relationship over the past 35 years.�� Citing Taiwan’s joining of the Visa Waiver Program, the previous visit of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and more as examples of strong bilateral ties, Marut said the U.S. sees the strong and vibrant cooperation between peoples of both sides. The TRA was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The AIT head’s remarks came as he made his first public appearance following a New Year’s Day flag-raising ceremony held by Taipei’s de facto embassy in Washington at the Twin Oaks estate, the former residence of R.O.C. ambassadors to the U.S. in Washington, D.C. The ceremony marked the first time such a ceremony had been held in the facility since the U.S. switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. The ceremony, which drew strong protests from Beijing, was seen by the Taiwan government as a sign of a major breakthrough in Taiwan-U.S. relations. However, the event escalated into a diplomatic incident that complicated bilateral relations. Over the past week, the U.S. has continued to criticize Taiwan over the incident, which culminated in a call made by the AIT last Thursday that urged Taiwan not to hold a flag-raising ceremony again at the Twin Oaks estate. The AIT yesterday did not comment on the flag-raising controversy.

A representative of the Taiwanese government at yesterday’s ceremony, Katherine Chang (�i�p��), chairperson of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs, an office that liaises with AIT, yesterday also declined to comment on the incident. The free-entry exhibition entitled ��Tradition and Transformation: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, 1979-2014�� will be at Nanmen Park of the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei from Jan. 13 through Feb. 1.