Taiwan: US Representative Chris Smith Urges Secretary of State to Implement Taiwan Travel Act
On 13 September 2018, United States (US) Representative Chris Smith called the Secretary of State to meet Chinese efforts to isolate Taiwan with reciprocal measures. Under the Taiwan Travel Act signed earlier this year, high-level officials of the US are allowed to visit Taiwan and vice versa in order to ensure the inclusion of Taiwan into international fora. In the meantime, China has made efforts – both physical and legislative - to prevent Taiwan from participating in international relations.
This article was published by the Taipei Times:
US Representative Chris Smith on Friday [14 September 2018] urged his country’s executive branch to fully implement the Taiwan Travel Act by increasing exchanges of high-level officials between Taiwan and the US.
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Smith said that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit last month to the US reflected positive development of bilateral ties between Taipei and Washington.
“Building on this, I urge you to fully implement the Taiwan Travel Act to allow regular and high-level exchanges between US and Taiwanese officials,” Smith said in the letter.
Tsai last month made stopovers in Los Angeles and Houston on her way to and from Paraguay and Belize, two of Taiwan’s 17 diplomatic allies.
The stopovers were closely watched, as they were the first since US President Donald Trump signed the act into law in March.
The Taiwan Travel Act provides for senior US officials to visit Taiwan and vice versa. It could lead to a change in the US practice of restricting bilateral visits by Cabinet-level officials, but allowing Taiwanese presidents to visit US cities en route to other countries.
During Tsai’s transits, she made a public address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, her first public address in the US since she took office.
In addition to calling for full implementation of the Taiwan Travel Act, Smith also said that the US administration should “work diligently to ensure Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations and other international organizations.”
China has stepped up measures to diplomatically isolate Taiwan and intensify threats against the nation, altering the “status quo” in the Indo-Pacific region, Smith said.
“China has launched a multi-domain campaign against Taiwan that includes many aggressive and provocative actions, such as the dispatching of warships, bombers and fighter jets, to encircle the island, as well as conducting live-fire military exercises near Taiwan’s waters,” Smith wrote.
“Furthermore, in the diplomatic space, China has worked assiduously to cut off Taiwan’s diplomatic partners and block Taiwan from participating in international organizations,” he wrote.
“China’s provocations are brazen and the US must publicly protest China’s continued alteration of the status quo in the South China Sea and its multipronged effort to threaten and isolate Taiwan,” Smith wrote.
He also urged the US Department of State to reaffirm the US’ unwavering commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances,” as they form the foundation of US relations with Taiwan.
“I applaud the administration’s commitment to building a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Supporting Taiwan is crucial in realizing this goal,” Smith wrote.
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