Taipei, March 27 (CNA) United States Representative Ed Royce received an honorary medal from Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan on Tuesday for his contributions in promoting Taiwan-U.S. relations over the years, including his backing of the recently passed Taiwan Travel Act.
In a ceremony presided over by Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was given the Congressional Diplomacy Honorary Medal of the Legislative Yuan.
In his 13 terms in Congress, Royce has been a leading voice behind several pieces of legislation designed to enhance bilateral ties and has also strongly supported arms sales to Taiwan and its participation in the international community.
Su praised Royce’s decades-long contributions to bilateral ties, calling him the strongest facilitator and defender of Taiwan-U.S. relations.
Royce expressed his deep appreciation for the honor, recalling that he made his first trip to Taiwan 20 years ago as a member of the House of Representatives, and then later joined the Taiwan Caucus before becoming chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs six years ago.
“My first trip that I led (after becoming chairman) started with the trip to Taiwan. The reason to me, as the new chairman of the committee …, was to send a powerful message about the importance and strong relations between Taiwan and the U.S.,” he said.
The many bills he helped pass over the years were all meant to strengthen the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, the cornerstones of U.S.-Taiwan relations, he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Royce and the congressional delegation with him on their three-day visit met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office.
Tsai thanked Royce for his longtime advocacy for Taiwan and his support of the Taiwan Travel Act, and she vowed to work closely with the U.S. government to make increased official visits that the bill called for a reality.
Tsai also reiterated Taiwan’s ability and willingness to cooperate with the U.S. on its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy, saying she believed that a stable, healthy Taiwan-U.S. relationship can underpin a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Royce arrived in Taiwan late Monday on China Airlines’ inaugural return flight from Ontario International Airport in California to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
China Airlines on Sunday launched nonstop service between the two airports in a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, and the congressman, who represents a California district that borders the city of Ontario, was instrumental in making the new route a reality.
Royce announced in January that he will not run for re-election in mid-term elections this year and will retire after 26 years in Congress, and Tsai invited him to continue to visit Taiwan even after he retires and to regard the country as his second home.
(By Joseph Yeh, Lu Hsin-hui and Kuan-lin Liu)