U.S. promotes closer ties with Taiwan, China furious

CNA file

CNA file

The legislation states that it will be US policy to permit visits to Taiwan by "cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials" to meet Taiwanese counterparts. The US House of Representatives passed the bill in January, thus the legislation needs to be signed by US President Donald Trump to become law.

U.S. scholars warned Taiwan Thursday to think about the implications of the U.S. Taiwan Travel Act, especially what it will mean for relations across the Taiwan Strait, and assess whether the country can stand up to the pressure that will come from China as a result.

Opposition legislator Chiang Chi-chen said that arms sales and USA support to Taiwan were matters of negotiations between Washington and Beijing, and the new bill would also be discussed.

The Senate passed the Taiwan Travel Act by unanimous consent.

Yang suggested Congress's passage of the Taiwan Travel Act could give President Trump leverage in his dealings with Beijing, as he could float the possibility of vetoing it, or more likely use administrative discretion to refrain from arranging the kind of official exchanges that threaten Beijing. She warned that Washington "must handle Taiwan-related issues properly and cautiously so as to avoid causing any major disruption or damage to the China-U.S. relations".

Meanwhile, China has expressed "grave concern" about a US 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. Describing Washington as a "solid ally", Premier Willian Lai said on Friday that he "wholeheartedly" anticipates that the law will "further raise the substantive relationship between Taiwan and the United States".

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In very different ways Wednesday, citizens of Taiwan used an important holiday to call for the 23 million people of this self-governing island - which Beijing claims as its territory - to have a greater say in their political identity.

Video footage of the demonstration at Chiang's tomb Wednesday showed chanting protesters throwing red paint and unfurling a white banner that read, "Abolish China authoritarian rule, establish the Republic of Taiwan".

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also thanked Congress for its support of U.S. -Taiwan relations and pledged to "develop an even more substantial cooperative relationship" with the United States. The legislation proposed permitting the Navy to make port calls in Taiwan. The law stipulates continued sales of defensive arms to Taiwan and states that the United States would help Taiwan resist an armed attack from China.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have grown since Tsai, the leader of the island's independence-leading Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in 2016.

Lee Teng-hui, one of the former presidents backing the proposal, told hundreds of supporters at a news conference that a referendum was the "most powerful weapon" that Taiwan could use to establish itself as a "normal country", according to Taiwan's Central News Agency.

Noting the unanimous passage of the bill through Congress, the Communist Party newspaper Global Times said that reflected "growing nationalist sentiment in the U.S. in the face of China's rise".

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