U.S. state secretary hints at more high-level U.S.-Taiwan visits

WASHINGTON (CNA) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed yesterday the importance of U.S. legislation that encourages high-level U.S. officials to visit Taiwan and vice versa.

Fielding questions during a hearing in Washington, D.C., Pompeo described the Taiwan Travel Act as a “very important piece of legislation.” “You have seen our administration do a great deal to implement that. I’m sure there is more to follow. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of what we are doing,” he said when asked by U.S. House Representative Steve Chabot to comment on the Taiwan Travel Act’s implementation.

Citing the act, Chabot, who has long called for Pompeo to invite Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, noted that Ambassador Sam Brownback, the U.S. top envoy for international religious freedom, concluded a trip to Taiwan last week.

“Can we, and the people of Taiwan, count on you to advocate for further implementation of the Taiwan Travel Act?” Chabot asked Pompeo.

Passed Feb. 28, 2018, the act was signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump March 16, 2018. As a follow-up to the Taiwan Relations Act, the bill allows high-level U.S. officials to visit Taiwan and vice versa.

Pompeo also said he understands perfectly the importance of U.S.-Taiwan relations.

“You have seen what we’ve done with respect to Taiwan. Just a few days ago we sailed through the (Taiwan) Strait,” he said, referring to the passage of U.S. Navy destroyer Curtis Wilbur and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf Sunday, the third such transit this year.

“And more importantly, we have taken a much fuller view than previous administrations – this is not partisan, this goes back to Republicans and Democrats alike – of the concerns about the risk that China presents to American wealth creation and our continued democracy.”

By Rita Cheng and Joseph Yeh