Taiwan Travel Act clears U.S. Senate, heads to White House

The United States Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed the Taiwan Travel Act. After being signed by President Donald Trump, officials at all levels of the U.S. government would be allowed to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington, Feb. 28 (CNA) The United States Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed the Taiwan Travel Act, a bill that promotes visits by government officials between Taiwan and the U.S.

The bill, which was moved from a Senate committee to the Senate floor on Feb. 7, now goes under the review of President Donald Trump, and needs only his signature to officially become a law.

Under the Taiwan Travel Act, officials at all levels of the U.S. government would be allowed to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, while high-level Taiwanese officials would be able to enter the U.S., under “respectful conditions,” and meet with U.S. government leaders.

The bill also stated that it would encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States in the absence of diplomatic ties, and other Taiwan-government institutions on American soil to conduct their business with local and federal U.S. officials.

The passage of the bill by the U.S. Congress was heralded as a big step forward in Taiwan-U.S. relations, with both Taiwan’s Presidential Office and its representative office in the U.S. thanking America for its support and friendship.

Mike Kuo (郭正光), president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs who has been actively pushing for the passage of the bill, said in response to the success that it has eliminated the barriers for Taiwan’s high-level officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), to visit Washington, D.C.

“This is a wonderful day for Taiwanese Americans and Taiwanese people,” Kuo said.

The Taiwan Travel Act has faced strong opposition from China, with the state-run Xinhua news agency reporting earlier this year that the Chinese government “resolutely opposes” it.

In Xinhua’s report on Jan. 17, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) was quoted as saying that “the act severely violates the One-China principle established by the three China-U.S. joint communiques.”

The joint communiques are a collection of three statements that play a crucial role in governing China-U.S. relations and Taiwan-U.S. relations.

(By Kuan-lin Liu, Chiang Chin-yeh and Yeh Su-ping)