China Protests US Bill Promoting Travel Between US, Taiwan

Barricades are placed at the entrance of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on Wednesday

Barricades are placed at the entrance of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on Wednesday

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry thanked the United States for the unanimous support for the bill and for the US government's increasingly friendly and open attitude towards Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the bill seriously violates Beijing's "One China" principle.

The Senate unanimously approved the Taiwan Travel Act on Wednesday. It passed the House of Representatives in January, also without opposition.

In very different ways Wednesday, citizens of Taiwan used an important holiday to call for the 23 million people of this self-governing island - which Beijing claims as its territory - to have a greater say in their political identity.

"China is strongly dissatisfied with the bill and resolutely opposes it, and has already lodged stern representations with the U.S. side", the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

She added that China is strongly dissatisfied with the legislation and resolutely opposes it.

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"The US Congress has actually given the decision to the executive branch as to whether to allow high-level official exchange visits, so this gives the Trump administration leverage when it's bargaining with China over various American interests", said Philip Yang, president of the Taiwan Association of International Relations.

The legislation allows unrestricted visits by USA officials to the island, while Taiwanese officials would be allowed to enter the US under respectful conditions.

An stressed the importance of the one-China principle as the foundation to ensure peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, saying all people want to communicate, cooperate and develop.

Lee Teng-hui 李登輝, now 91 years old, told a crowd of hundreds in Taipei that a referendum - even a non-binding one, which this would be - is the "most powerful weapon" for establishing Taiwan as a "normal country", with "Taiwan" rather than "China" in its name.

It remains to be seen whether President Trump will sign the bill into law.

Tsai has pledged to maintain the "status quo" with Beijing but pro-independence politicians in her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have criticised her for not taking a tougher stance.

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