The bill says it should be USA policy to allow officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the U.S. under respectful conditions and meet U.S. officials, and encourage Taiwanese economic and cultural representatives to conduct business in the United States. It passed the House of Representatives in January, also without opposition.
Ji Ye, a Taiwan affairs specialist from Xiamen University, said the bill would negatively impact Sino-US ties because it harms Beijing's interests and goes against the one-China policy.
The bill also would allow high-level Taiwan officials to visit the United States "under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials" to meet USA officials including State Department, Pentagon, and other cabinet agencies.
"We also sternly warn Taiwan: do not rely on foreigners to build yourselves up, or it will only draw the fire upon you", the government bureau said in a short statement.
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China insists on eventual unification of the two sides, by use of force if needed.
Lai made the remarks at the Legislative Yuan when asked by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) to share his view on commentaries that Beijing could step up measures to suppress Taiwan in the global community as a response to the US Senate's passage of the Taiwan Travel Act on Wednesday. That call prompted China's foreign ministry to lodge a formal complaint with the U.S. The legislation only needs President Donald Trump's signature to become law.
Yet another Global Times article quoted An Fengshan of the Taiwan Affairs Office suggesting "unscrupulous" Taiwanese media and US think-tank experts are hatching a plan that will sacrifice Taiwan in a desperate USA bid to weaken China, even as the Chinese generously extend wonderful educational and economic opportunities to the people of Taiwan in a spirit of brotherly cooperation that might end very suddenly if Taiwan does not adjust its attitude.
But Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen praised the bill's final passage in a tweet posted late Wednesday, saying it "symbolizes the #US Congress' longstanding support for #Taiwan".
President Trump angered Chinese leaders in the weeks after winning the 2016 presidential election when he took a congratulatory phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
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The Taiwan Travel Act aims to expand the scope of official U.S. -Taiwan exchanges, long a sensitive issue in the U.S.
"We wholeheartedly anticipate that this law can in the future further raise the substantive relationship between Taiwan and the United States", Lai said.
Lee Teng-hui, one of the former presidents backing the proposal, told hundreds of supporters at a news conference that a referendum was the "most powerful weapon" that Taiwan could use to establish itself as a "normal country", according to Taiwan's Central News Agency.
Taiwan officials welcomed the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act but analysts said the move would trigger more backlash from Beijing against the self-ruled island.
Noting the unanimous passage of the bill through Congress, the Communist Party newspaper Global Times said that reflected "growing nationalist sentiment in the usa in the face of China's rise".
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