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Rubio Introduces Legislation to Strengthen U.S.-Taiwan Relations
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today introduced the Taiwan Travel Act, legislation that encourages visits between U.S. and Taiwanese officials at all levels. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), co-chair of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, is an original co-sponsor of the bill.
“Currently, the United States has self-imposed restrictions on high-level visits with Taiwanese officials and U.S. officials’ travel to Taiwan,” said Rubio. “My bill encourages visits between high level American officials and the Taiwanese government in the interest of deepening U.S.-Taiwan ties. In addition to serving America’s interests abroad, this bill will have real benefits for workers and families in Florida. Taiwan is Florida’s sixth largest export market in Asia, and just last year, bilateral trade between Taiwan and Florida was roughly $1.26 billion. Maintaining this relationship is vital to creating good-paying jobs in Florida and strengthening our state’s economy.
“As I told President Tsai Ing-Wen in June, the United States remains resolute in its support of Taiwan,” continued Rubio. “Taiwan has long been a friend of the United States and a critical security partner, and shares our interest in regional peace and development. It is essential for our relationship to grow. Unfortunately, as we have just seen in the last week, Taiwan did not receive an invitation to attend the International Civil Aviation Organization assembly (ICAO) because of Chinese pressure. In contrast to China, Taiwan is a vibrant democracy with a prosperous free-market economy. Given Beijing’s attempts to isolate and bully Taiwan, it is more important than ever that we promote stronger economic, cultural, and military ties between the United States and Taiwan.”
Rubio’s bill encourages high-level U.S. officials to visit Taiwan and high-level Taiwanese officials to travel to America and meet with their counterparts. Additionally, this legislation states as policy that the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and other Taiwanese agencies should be able to conduct business in the United States, including activities that involve participation by Members of Congress and federal, state, or local government officials.
U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot (OH-01), Ted Poe (TX-02) and Brad Sherman (CA-30) introduced similar legislation (H.R. 6047) in the House earlier this month.
Timeline of Rubio’s work to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations:
- June 24, 2016 – Rubio met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Miami.
- June 8, 2016 – Rubio co-sponsored an amendment to the NDAA (S. Amdt. 4560) authorizing Taiwanese military officials to wear their uniforms while in the United States, and granting observer status to Taiwanese military forces at Rim of the Pacific exercises.
- May 19, 2016 – Rubio introduced a bipartisan concurrent resolution reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the “Six Assurances” as cornerstones of U.S.-Taiwan relations, which passed the Senate July 7.
- January 16, 2016 – Rubio congratulated Dr. Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan’s newly-elected president.
- December 17, 2015 – Rubio welcomed the Obama Administration’s announcement of a long-overdue arms sale to Taiwan.
- November 7, 2015 – Rubio called for stronger U.S.-Taiwan relations after a historic meeting between the presidents of China and Taiwan.
- April 3, 2014 – During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Rubio pressed the Obama Administration over its refusal to confirm the “Six Assurances” remain the guiding principles of U.S. policy toward Taiwan.