China strongly opposes passing of Taiwan Travel Act by US


China strongly opposes passing of Taiwan Travel Act by US

The Taiwan Travel Act passed the Senate unanimously on Wednesday, after passing the House in January.

Meanwhile, China has expressed "grave concern" about a USA trade policy report that pledges to pressure Beijing but had no immediate response to President Donald Trump's plan to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The bill says it should be USA policy to allow officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts and permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States.

As Taiwan's top political leaders are applauding the passage of the bill, which promotes visits between the U.S. and Taiwanese officials at higher levels on Thursday, the U.S. State Department reiterated that official relations with Taiwan have remained "unchanged".

Hua added that China wants the United States to "prudently and appropriately handle issues related to Taiwan to avoid seriously interfering with and damaging China-U.S. relations".

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and an integral part of "one China", ineligible for state-to-state relations.

Furthermore, there is no mention of Taiwanese officials visiting Washington, D.C., which has always been prohibited for Taiwanese presidents, although they have in recent years been able to make transit stops in other places in the USA, he noted. Passed in 2005, the legislation allows Beijing to "use force to prevent the island from seceding", an editorial in the official China Daily warned.

Green said that for Taiwan, it is more important to have a "very closely aligned U.S. -Japan alliance on cross-strait issues" than "a slight upgrade in U.S. visits or access".

The US cut formal ties with Taiwan when it recognized China in 1979 but the two maintain robust unofficial relations, and the US is legally bound to respond to threats against the self-governing island democracy.

Both developments Wednesday - the 71st anniversary of an uprising that led to a massacre of Taiwanese by Chiang's soldiers - highlight the challenges that President Tsai Ing-wen faces in dealing with rising pressure from China while trying to keep Taiwan's pro-independence voters on her side as midterm elections approach.

Lee Chih-horng, who teaches cross-strait relations at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said Beijing was unlikely to tolerate such exchanges, which it sees as a "state-to-state relationship".

"It is critical for the United States to strengthen our ties with Taiwan, especially as China increases efforts to isolate Taiwan and block its participation in worldwide organizations", he said.

Taiwan is meanwhile considering expanding its contact with the US, with a US-Taiwan defence industry conference to be held in the southwest city of Kaohsiung in May.

Another Global Times piece quoted China Foreign Affairs University professor Li Haidong denouncing the Taiwan Travel Act as an "irresponsible move" that "reverses the gears of a stable and positive Sino-U.S. relationship", bringing Washington and Taipei perilously close to crossing a "red line" Beijing will enforce with the Anti-Secession Law-in other words, by invading Taiwan.

The act uses the word "should" in relation to how the US should execute it, so the USA government has no obligation to actually enforce it, Su said.

China also threatened war over that decision, stating that China will open fire on Taiwan if an American naval vessel ever visits.



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