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President confers medal on U.S. congressman for supporting Taiwan

2015/03/13 23:14:32

Ed Royce (left).

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) conferred a medal on Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs, Friday in recognition of his efforts to support Taiwan and promote ties between Taipei and Washington.

Ma granted the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon to Royce (R-CA), while receiving him at the Presidential Office. Royce, who is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation here, arrived in Taiwan earlier in the day.

Relations between Taiwan and the U.S. are at their best in 36 years, Ma said, adding that the U.S. Congress has been playing a significant role in strengthening bilateral ties.

The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), enacted by Congress in 1979 when the U.S. severed official ties with the Republic of China and established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, has been key to maintaining stable ties between Taipei and Washington and continuing bilateral cooperation, Ma said.

In response, Royce expressed appreciation for the honor and vowed to further promote ties with Taiwan.

"The reason we bring a large delegation here is to express our support for Taiwan," Royce said. "Our engagement with Taiwan is not only strong, but we're trying to find ways to further strengthen it."

Royce called for both countries to conclude a bilateral investment agreement and said that Taiwan and the U.S. "must work together to make certain that Taiwan has a seat at the table early for (the proposed regional trade bloc Trans-Pacific Partnership) TPP in order to represent Taiwan's interests in the negotiations, which will further strengthen Taiwan economically."

Since Royce took over as chairman of the committee, he has been pushing for several bills and resolutions in support of Taiwan, including one to emphasize the importance of the TRA last year.

Royce has also been paying attention to Taiwan's defense needs. He was a driving force behind a bill on the U.S. sales of four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan, which was passed by both houses of Congress late last year, to strengthen Taiwan's defense capabilities in the face of China's military threat.

Royce has also been supportive of Taiwan's bid to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Ma on Friday said Taiwan and the United States are important partners, expressing hope that Royce and other U.S. congress members will continue to promote bilateral relations.

This is Royce's third visit to Taiwan since becoming chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2013.

Leading a bipartisan delegation that includes six other members of Congress members, Royce is also scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), as well as leaders of the ruling Kuomintang and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, before wrapping up the visit on Sunday.

(By Kelven Huang and Elaine Hou)