Trump signs Taiwan Travel Act in new provocation against China
19 March 2018
President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday the Taiwan Travel Act, a calculated provocation that will only heighten tensions with China. The bill, which was passed unanimously by Congress, states that it should be US policy to encourage US officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, and permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the US for talks with American officials, including from the Departments of State and Defence.
By facilitating stronger ties with Taiwan, the legislation overturns decades of diplomatic protocol that maintained only low-level US contact with an island that China regards as an integral part of its territory. Beijing has threatened to take military action to bring the island under its control if the government in Taipei ever formally declared independence.
In 1979, following the 1971 US rapprochement with China, Washington formally broke diplomatic relations with Taipei and supported the “One China” policy, indirectly acknowledging Taiwan as part of China. At the same time, it passed the Taiwan Relations Act, committing the US to defend the island against any attempt at forcible reunification by China.
As it ramps up its confrontation with China over trade and the South China Sea, and threatens war with Beijing’s ally North Korea, the Trump administration is also ending the delicate balancing act over US policy toward Taiwan that sought to obscure the underlying contradiction—upholding a One China policy, while maintaining ties with Taipei.
Even before his inauguration, Trump broke with precedent and took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in December 2016, supposedly for Tsai to…