MOFA welcomes US reps’ move to advance bill on high-level visits

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed June 16 a vote by members of the U.S. House of Representatives to advance a bill aimed at encouraging high-level visits between the two sides.

Expressing appreciation to the representatives, the MOFA said the move underscores bipartisan support for strengthening Taiwan-U.S. relations. Taiwan is committed to enhancing the close partnership between Taipei and Washington based on the current foundation of diversified and smooth communication, the ministry added.

The comments came after the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific unanimously passed the Taiwan Travel Act H.R. 535 the previous day. Introduced by Reps. Ed Royce and Steve Chabot in January, the bill encourages visits between the two sides at all levels.

While the Taiwan Relations Act enacted in 1979 continues to be a cornerstone of relations between Taipei and Washington, ties have suffered due to insufficient high-level communication, according to the proposed legislation.

The bill states that it should be the policy of the U.S. to authorize officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet with their counterparts, as such visits are an indicator of the breadth and depth of relations between the two sides.

At the same time, it urges Washington to allow high-level officials from Taiwan to enter the U.S. under conditions that demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with officials of the U.S.

The bill adds that it should be the policy of the U.S. government to encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S., and any other body established by Taiwan, to conduct business in the U.S., including activities involving participation by members of the U.S. Congress, officials of federal, state or local governments of the U.S., or any high-level official of Taiwan.

On May 4, Sens. Marco Rubio, Sherrod Brown, Jim Inhofe, Bob Menendez, Cory Gardner and Gary Peters also introduced a version of the Taiwan Travel Act in the U.S. Senate.

Rubio said in a press statement the same day that the U.S. should keep strengthening its relationship with Taiwan's vibrant democracy, including by encouraging high-level visits between Taiwan and U.S. officials in their respective capitals. Similarly, Menendez said the bill will help normalize contacts between the two sides for the furtherance of mutual prosperity, security and cultural relations.

Source: Taiwan Today