U.S. House passes act to support Taiwan's international presence (update)

03/05/2020 02:13 PM
CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Washington and Taipei, March 4 (CNA) The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019.

The TAIPEI Act, which is aimed at supporting Taiwan's international presence, passed the House floor with a unanimous vote of 415 to zero.

First introduced in the Senate by Cory Gardner last May, with Republican Congressman John Curtis unveiling a similar version in the House in October, the bill is aimed at expressing U.S. support for Taiwan's diplomatic alliances around the world amid pressure from Beijing.

The Act authorizes the U.S. State Department to consider "reducing its economic, security and diplomatic engagements with nations that take serious or significant actions to undermine Taiwan."

Since 2016, the Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, and Kiribati have severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of diplomatic relations with China, according to the bill.

It also calls on the U.S. government to help Taiwan gain participation in international organizations, either as a member or an observer, and expresses its support for Taiwan's international participation when it interacts with Beijing.

The legislation was passed by the Senate on Oct. 29, 2019, with the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passing its version of the TAIPEI Act the next day.

But because the House of Representatives made some revisions to the bill, the Senate will need to pass it again before it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

According to U.S. legislative procedure, the Senate and House must coordinate on passing identical versions of the TAIPEI Act.

Curtis told CNA Wednesday that he expects the Senate to look into the slightly revised legislation very soon.

The congressman said he is confident that the president will sign the bill as soon as it arrives on his desk.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) thanked the U.S. House for passing the act in a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty in Taipei on Thursday.

"We deeply appreciate our friends in the U.S. Congress for taking such concrete action to support the strengthening of Taiwan's diplomatic standing in the world, our participation in international organizations, as well as the bolstering of Taiwan-U.S. economic relations," she said.

"Looking ahead, Taiwan will continue to work closely with the U.S. and other like-minded countries in the region, to jointly contribute to peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific," she said.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also expressed appreciation in a statement, adding that it will closely follow the legislative procedure of the Act and continue to work with the U.S. pragmatically to expand Taiwan's international space.

(By Stacy Hsu, Ko Lin and Emerson Lim)

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