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Donald Trump

Still no decision from Trump on signing of US-Taiwan travel bill, White House says

Bill that has drawn protests from Beijing will become law on Saturday if the US president does not veto it

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 2:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 2:07pm

US President Donald Trump has not decided whether he will sign legislation that would allow US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, the White House said on Thursday.

“A final decision hasn’t been made,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

The legislation, which has been approved by both chambers of the US Congress, has angered the Chinese government.

If Trump did not veto it, the bill would become law on Saturday even if he did not sign it, congressional aides said.

Beijing hits out at US’ Taiwan travel bill as analysts warn of backlash

Taiwan’s Presidential Office said the government would hold talks with Washington on exchange visits after US congress approval on March 1, but Beijing expressed strong dissatisfaction and protested to the United States.

Taiwan is meanwhile considering expanding its contact with the US, with a US-Taiwan defence industry conference to be held in the southwest city of Kaohsiung in May.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province subject to eventual unification, by force if necessary, and has repeatedly warned the US and other countries against forging ties with Taipei or allowing visits by senior Taiwanese officials, especially the president and vice-president.

Cross-strait relations have soured since Tsai Ing-wen became Tawian’s president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China policy.

US Senate passes Taiwan travel bill slammed by China

Beijing has used economic sweetners such as better paying jobs, access to bigger markets and equal treatment with mainlanders to lure Taiwanese across the strait.

The Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office announced in February 31 policies aimed at smoothing the way to greater Taiwan-mainland integration. Twelve of the measures relate to business while the rest cover social and employment issues.

Analysts have cautioned that if the incentive measures do not work, the mainland could move to forcibly seize the self-ruled island, although there is no timetable for such drastic move.