Taiwan vows to strengthen ties with U.S. after Trump signs travel act

Taipei, Taiwan said Saturday that it welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's signing of the Taiwan Travel Act and expressed gratitude to support for Taipei from Washington, while vowing to strengthen ties with the U.S.

Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (???) said Taiwan is grateful to Trump for signing the Taiwan Travel Act, and "we (the Taiwan government) will work closely with the U.S. executive branch to make the bilateral ties stronger than ever."

Lin said the United States is a close ally of Taiwan, and Taipei sincerely thanks Washington's adamant support for its development, so as part of the global society, Taiwan is determined to continue its efforts to strengthen stability and peace in the region.

On Friday, Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which aims to allow high level visits between Taiwan and U.S. government officials. The Act went into effect on the same day. Trump signed the Act even though China has repeatedly voiced opposition against the legislation.

The act says it allows "officials at all levels of the United States Government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts."

The act also allows "high-level officials of Taiwan to enter the United States, under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with officials of the United States, including officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense and other Cabinet agencies."

Trump's signing of the act after the bill, introduced by Steve Chabot, a Republican representative of Ohio, cleared the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in January and February, respectively.

While many in Taiwan have hailed the passage of the act as a breakthrough in Taiwan-U.S. relations, veteran diplomats cautioned that the legislation merely expresses "the sense of Congress" and is not legally binding to the executive branch.

In response to the U.S. President's move to sign the act into law, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that after Trump took office in 2017, his administration has repeatedly sent delegations headed by senior government officials to Taiwan to participate in a wide range of affairs such as commercial, cultural and education exchanges.

In addition, both Taipei and Washington have seen their ties running deeper than ever after raising their efforts in participating in the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), which was established in June 2015 to support bilateral cooperation in international public health, humanitarian assistance and other global issues, the MOFA added.

The MOFA said Taiwan and the U.S. are expected to take advantage of the already existing mutual trust and reciprocity between them to further strengthen bilateral ties, while keeping close contact with each other after the Taiwan Travel Act goes into effect.

At present, senior U.S. government officials rarely visit Taiwan because of Washington's formal ties with China and lack of official relations with Taipei.

When Gina McCarthy, then-administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to Taiwan in 2014, she was the first U.S. Cabinet-level official to visit the island in 14 years. No other official of that level has visited since.

The U.S. has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to providing defensive weapons to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, which was enacted on April 10, 1979 after Washington shifted its recognition to Beijing from Taipei.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel