On January 13 Republican Congressman Steve Chabot introduced in the United States House of Representatives the Taiwan Travel Act (H.R.535) aimed at encouraging “visits between U.S and Taiwanese officials at all levels.”
The bill states that the US should allow officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, and to permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States and meet with US officials, including officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.
In 1979 the United States switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
In a 1979 US-PRC Joint Communique Washington recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”
The Joint Communique stipulated that the United States would “maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.”
In 1979 the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act “to help maintain peace, security, and stability in the Western Pacific.” The bill authorized “the continuation of commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, and for other purposes.”
On October 12 the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to forward the Taiwan Travel Act to the Congress for approval. Easing travel restrictions between Taiwanese and US government officials is viewed by China as a breach of Sino-US agreements.
On Friday Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, criticized the US Congress for drafting legislation that could “harm Sino-US relations” and encouraged “Taiwan independence.”
“We must once more stress that the relevant draft bill is a serious violation of the one-China policy and of the principles laid out in the three Sino-US Joint Communiques. We express our resolute opposition to any interference in China’s internal affairs,” Hua said at a press conference.
China urged the United States to “handle the Taiwan issue with caution” and to refrain from conducting any kind of government-level exchanges with Taiwan. Hua warned Washington not to send wrong signals to Taiwanese ‘separatists’.
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