Trump signs US-Taiwan travel bill, angers China

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Trump signs US-Taiwan travel bill, angers China

President Donald Trump has signed a new travel bill, allowing senior US officials to go to Taiwan to meet Taiwanese counterparts and vice versa, a move that has angered China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province.

The White House said Friday that the non-binding bill, irrespective of whether Trump had signed it or not, would have gone into effect on Saturday morning.

This comes as tension is rising between Washington and Beijing after Trump has introduced tariffs and called for China to reduce its huge trade imbalance with the United States.

Earlier on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated that Beijing opposed the legislation, urging the United States to conform to the "one China" policy and halt official exchanges with Taiwan.

The Chinese embassy released a statement, saying that said clauses of the legislation "severely violate the one-China principle, the political foundation of the China-US relationship."

"China is strongly dissatisfied with that and firmly opposes it," the statement said, adding that Washington should "stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way."

Although the US has no formal ties with Taiwan, it is required by law to assist it with self-defense as its primary source of weapons.

Meanwhile, Douglas Paal, who served as US representative to Taiwan from 2002 to 2006, said the bill was nothing new as it was non-binding.

"They don't authorize these trips because the policy judgment is that the costs in relations with China would outweigh the benefits in relations with Taiwan," Paal said.

According to the bill, which had been initially passed by Congress last month, US should have a policy to allow visits at all levels.

High-ranking Taiwanese officials should be allowed to enter the US "under respectful conditions" to meet American officials, the bill says.

Washington should encourage Taiwanese economic and cultural representatives to conduct business in the US, the bill adds.

China has been hostile to Taiwan since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, in 2016.

Beijing suspects that Tsai seeks to push for formal independence, a move that would cross a red line for ruling Communist Party leaders in Beijing.

Tsai, however, has rejected such suspicion, saying she wants to keep the status quo and that she is committed to ensuring peace.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after they had lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists.

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