Washington-The United States House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Taiwan Travel Act, a bill that encourages visits by all levels of officials, including high-ranking officials, between the United States and Taiwan.
The bill, a follow-up to the Taiwan Relations Act, was introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and others in January 2017 and passed by the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs in October 2017 before being submitted for a vote by the full House.
The legislation still has to be passed by the Senate to become law.
"The U.S. and Taiwan share a commitment to democracy, rule of law and human rights...We should be supporting countries that have achieved democracy to serve as inspiration for these values across the Asia Pacific," Royce said in applauding passage of the bill.
The bill argues that ties between the U.S. and Taiwan have suffered from insufficient high-level communication since the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 because of self-imposed restrictions maintained by the U.S. on visits by top officials to Taiwan.
"The United States government should encourage visits between the United States and Taiwan at all levels," the bill said.
After it becomes law, high-level Taiwanese officials may enter the United States and meet with U.S. officials, including officials from the Department of State, and conduct business in the United States, according to the bill.
High-ranking Taiwanese officials have been barred from direct diplomatic engagement in Washington and senior U.S. officials have not visited Taiwan since the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979.
In response to the bill's passage, Rupert J. Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council (USTBC), said in an email reply to CNA that the USTBC supports the Taiwan Travel Act.
"We believe it will improve communication between Taiwan and the United States, specifically expanding the understanding of Taiwan's situation to decision makers in Washington," he said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel