U.S. reaffirms one-China policy as China protests travel act

A Taiwanese military officer salutes to Taiwan's flag onboard Navy's 124th fleet Lafayette frigate during military exercises off Kaohsiung, southern of Taiwan, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Taiwan military started a two-day joint forces exercises on Tuesday to show its determination to defend itself from Chinese threats. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Washington, March 19 (CNA) The United States on Monday reiterated its commitment to the one-China policy in response to Beijing’s protest over the recent passing of a bill that encourages visits between government officials of the U.S. and Taiwan.

“The United States remains committed to our one-China policy based on the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” a U.S. Department of State spokesperson said by email to CNA, in reply to questions about the U.S.’s response to China’s opposition.

“We consider Taiwan to be a vital partner, a democratic success story, and a force for good in the world,” the spokesperson said.

“Consistent with that view and with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States for decades has maintained robust unofficial contacts, including through reciprocal visits by high-level U.S. government and Taiwan representatives,” according to the spokesperson.

The spokesperson later gave the same response to another CNA reporter when asked to describe the U.S.’s one-China policy and how the U.S. intends to implement the Taiwan Travel Act, which is simply a “sense of Congress” and has no binding effect on the government.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act on March 16. The bill was presented to Trump on March 5, after clearing the House of Representatives on Jan. 9 and the Senate on Feb. 28 with unanimous support.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act on March 16. (AP/ Image)

The legislation encourages visits by all levels of government officials, including high-ranking officials, between the United States and Taiwan.

That would change a practice that has barred high-ranking Taiwanese officials from direct diplomatic engagement in Washington and senior U.S. officials from visiting Taiwan since the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979.

Though the legislation was non-binding, it still drew firm opposition from Beijing, which said it seriously violated the one-China principle and the three joint communiques that govern China-U.S. relations, and “sent a gravely wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatists.”

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) urged the United States to “correct the mistake” and stop official visits between the U.S. and Taiwan.

(By Leaf Chiang, Rita Cheng and Christie Chen)