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US Senate passes bill promoting ties with Taiwan

  • Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. Photo courtesy: AFP

Washington (AFP) -- The United States Senate Wednesday passed a bill promoting US-Taiwan relations -- legislation likely to infuriate China.

The Taiwan Travel Act, intended to encourage visits between the United States and Taiwan "at all levels" was passed by unanimous consent, having passed the House of Representatives in January.

The bill adds that it should be US policy for high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States, meet with US officials and conduct business in the country.

President Donald Trump's signature is now all that is needed for the bill to become law -- something that is not likely to be an obstacle, given that the bill was passed unanimously.

Washington cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, recognizing the Communist mainland rulers in Beijing as the sole government of "One China."

But, under the terms of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, Washington maintains an ambiguous approach to the island, maintains trade relations and sells Taipei weapons.

Trump sparked protest from China shortly after his election in 2016 by accepting a phone call from Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen, an action seen as breaking the protocol of the One China policy.

He made amends by vowing to uphold the One China policy shortly before Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort -- but infuriated Beijing again last summer by approving a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan.


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