J. Michael Cole
A bill working its way through Capitol Hill could allow senior U.S. officials to travel to Taiwan.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed the Taiwan Travel Act on February 7, 2018, a bill that would permit exchanges and visits by senior Taiwanese and American government officials. Seen by Beijing as a ploy to undermine “one China,” the bill has also attracted criticism by some American academics, who regard the move as “unnecessary” and “provocative.”
Bill H.R.535, which the House of Representatives passed on January 9, will now be sent to the floor of the U.S. Senate. If it becomes law, it would “allow 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,” and mark a milestone in relations since the United States shifted official diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China in 1979.
Introduced by Steve Chabot (R-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Ed Royce (R-CA), the bill has received bipartisan support, with eighty-one cosponsors—fifty-two Republicans and twenty-nine Democrats.
With U.S. Congress—long a source of support for Taiwan—moving closer to turning the bill into law, Beijing issued a stern warning on February 9, urging the United States to “adhere to its commitment on the Taiwan issue, stop deliberating the relevant act, properly handle Taiwan-related issues and maintain the stability of China-U.S. ties as well as the situation across the Taiwan Strait,” adding that “some of the act’s clauses … seriously violate the ‘one China’ principle and the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués.”