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Taiwan Travel Act clears House Foreign Affairs Committee

2017/10/13 11:05:10

(CNA file photo)

Washington, Oct. 12 (CNA) A bill to encourage visits between the United States and Taiwan at all levels passed the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday.

The legislation will now move on to the floor of the House of Representatives.

It says that since the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, ties between the United States and Taiwan have suffered from insufficient high-level communication due to the self-imposed restrictions that the United States maintains on visits by high ranking officials to Taiwan.

"The United States government should encourage visits between the United States and Taiwan at all levels," the bill states.

At present, senior U.S. government officials rarely visit Taiwan because of Washington's formal ties with China and lack of official relations with Taipei.

When Gina McCarthy, then administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to Taiwan in 2014, she was the first U.S. Cabinet-level official to visit the island in 14 years. No other official of that level of seniority has visited since.

In a statement, committee chairman Ed Royce said the bill denounces the current practice of restricting official travel between the two sides and will serve to further strengthen the critical U.S.-Taiwan partnership.

Before the Taiwan Travel Act can become law, it must be passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

(By Rita Cheng and Y.F. Low)