US President Trump approves official travel to Taiwan, likely to anger China


"Moving forward as a member of the global community, Taiwan pledges to maintain and develop a cooperative relationship with the continue contributing to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region", the statement read.

Experts Saturday described U.S. President Donald Trump's signing of the Taiwan Travel Act as symbolically meaningful, as it conveys a message of support to Taiwan.

The bill, which is non-binding, would have gone into effect this morning, even if Trump had not signed it, said the White House.

The move is likely to weigh heavily on US-China ties, which are now under strain after Trump announced new import tariffs on steel and aluminum.

"China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes it".

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has persistently refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus and its core concept of the "one China" principle since coming to power in 2016, a fact Beijing has taken as a reason to freeze bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

The United States still does not have formal ties with Taiwan, but is required by law to help it with self-defense.

The action came despite China warning that the Taiwan Travel Act would severely damage relations between Washington and Beijing.

Douglas Paal, who served as United States representative to Taiwan from 2002 to 2006, said the legislation did not change anything real as it was non-binding.

The TTA in theory allows high-level exchanges of government officials to take place both in Taiwan and the US, while also encouraging Taiwanese state institutions to promote business with local and federal USA officials.

"They don't authorise these trips because the policy judgment is that the costs in relations with China would outweigh the benefits in relations with Taiwan", Paal said. The act was passed unanimously by the US Congress January 9, 2018. High-level Taiwan officials should be permitted to enter the United States "under respectful conditions" to meet USA officials, while Taiwanese economic and cultural representatives should be encouraged to conduct business in the United States.

At the same time, it breaks away from a self-imposed longstanding practice that the USA avoids high-level officials from the US and Taiwan visiting each other's countries.

Taiwan has been governed separately from mainland China since a civil war in 1949 led to a split.