Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump approves official travel to Taiwan

Trump approves official travel to Taiwan

The Taiwan Travel Act will allow unrestricted two-way travel for officials from the United States and Taiwan, thus restoring direct official U.S. contacts with the self-ruled island, which were cut in 1979 when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

US President Donald Trump has signed legislation that would allow American officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, a move certain to anger China, which views Taiwan as a wayward province.

He later agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping to honor the so-called one-China policy, under which the United States acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China that encompasses Taiwan. The move could further strain US-China ties.

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The statement also urged the USA to "stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way".

But China doesn't consider Taiwan an independent country.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, left, and US President Donald Trump spoke by phone a year ago raising expectations that he would upgrade bilateral relations.

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Presidential spokesperson Lin Heming (林鶴明) released an official statement on March 17, Taiwan time, several hours after President Trump gave his signature of approval to the Taiwan Travel Act. While it lacks binding force, it does require U.S. administrations to report to Congress for approval of measures like weapons sales and visits.

While the U.S. and Taiwan officially ended diplomatic ties back in 1979, several United States administrations have inked precarious agreements that have provoked the ire of Beijing.

In a statement, China's Foreign Ministry said it had lodged "stern representations" with the United States, saying the law sent a "seriously wrong signal" to the forces of Taiwan independence. The Obama administration even sold more weapons to Taiwan than all previous administrations combined, invoking a strong rebuttal from Beijing.

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