Lawmakers warn not to be ‘overly optimistic’ about Taiwan Travel Act

Taipei, March 1 (CNA) Taiwan’s lawmakers maintained on Thursday that the country should not be “overly optimistic” about Taiwan-U.S. relations following the passing of the Taiwan Travel Act by the Senate on Wednesday, with some even suggesting that President Donald Trump signing the legislation could escalate tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (???), who serves on the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, acknowledged the importance of the act in eliminating barriers to visits by high-level officials between the two countries but noted it is not something that will take place overnight.

Tsai compared the development of Taiwan-U.S. relations to stacking blocks, saying it is a process that takes time, so Taiwan will need to be patient and not expect high-level U.S. officials to come knocking as soon as the act is signed.

Under the Taiwan Travel Act, officials at all levels of the U.S. government would be allowed to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, while high-level Taiwanese officials would be able to enter the U.S., under “respectful conditions” and meet with U.S. government leaders.

Fellow DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (???) said that the Taiwan Travel Act will definitely elevate cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S., but it really depends on how the U.S. government chooses to execute the act.

On the subject of how China will react to its passage, Lo said more time is needed to observe the situation but expressed the hope that the Chinese government will not overact.

Since news of the Taiwan Travel Act gaining traction in the U.S. Congress broke, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency has reported Beijing’s resolute opposition.

In a Xinhua report on Jan. 17, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (???) was quoted as saying “the act severely violates the One-China principle established by the three China-U.S. joint communiques.”

Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (???), who also sits on the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, said the Chinese government is certain to respond to the act being passed in the near future, possibly condemning the U.S. for damaging cross-strait relations.

In the long run, China could continue to limit Taiwan’s international participation in order to keep the U.S. in check, he continued.

According to Chiang’s analysis, the U.S. has used arms sales to Taiwan and its support of Taiwan in the international sphere as leverage in its negotiations with China.

The passage of the Taiwan Travel Act could serve as another card in its negotiation strategy, depending on how the U.S. government chooses to handle it, he said.

Given that Trump’s signing of the bill into law could escalate tensions across the Taiwan Strait, whether it helps or hinders Taiwan remains to be seen, he concluded.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel