Taiwan Travel Act like a 'political stunt': expert

The Taiwan Travel Act, an American bill which encourages visits between the self-ruled island and the United States at all levels including senior officials, is akin to a "political stunt", which would provoke Beijing and put Taiwan on the spot, according to an expert.

During a recent interview with Sino-US.com, Shelley Riggs, a specialist on cross-straits relations, said that the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations would tighten the screws on the Taiwan authorities which should learn about the danger of accepting the bill amid tensions with Beijing. Riggs compared it to the situation in late 2016 when Donald Trump should have avoided making the telephone call with Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen in an effort not to put Taiwan into embarrassment.

When dealing with the Taiwan issue, the United States needs to adopt a wiser and deliberate approach in a bid to reduce frictions with China, said Riggs, adding that the Trump administration does not need a political stunt such as the Taiwan Travel Act but a consistent, predictable policy toward Taiwan.

Earlier this month, China's Foreign Ministry lodged solemn representations with the United States over the Taiwan Travel Act after the bill was passed by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The ministry's spokesperson Geng Shuang expressed at a regular press conference China's resentment to the US act, which "seriously violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques". The spokesperson also warned that the passage and implementation of the bill would seriously disturb the China-US relations as well as the situation across the Taiwan Strait.

The US House of Representatives had also passed the bill in January.

The expert also talked about the removal of the "Republic of China flag" from the Taiwan page of two US government departments' websites, saying that it might be done by inexperienced staff. Taiwan called the move "unacceptable" and "disappointing", and criticized Beijing for continually restricting Taiwan's space in the international community.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and has long pressured other countries over the use of the "Republic of China flag".

In Riggs' opinion, the relations between the United States and Taiwan remains stable, which can be seen in the facts that the United States builds offices in Taiwan and sells weapons to the island.

However, the expert said that the United States was sending a mixed signal to Taiwan after it removed the Taiwanese flag from the government departments' websites and identified Taiwan as a part of China in a nuclear assessments report.

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