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U.S. lawmakers introduce 'Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act'

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Washington, May 28 (CNA) U.S. lawmakers have introduced the "Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act" to rename Taiwan's representative office in the United States and give Taiwanese diplomats diplomatic visas in a move they say will bolster ties between Washington and Taipei.

In a statement released on Friday, U.S. House Representative Brad Sherman from the Democratic Party said he and Republican House Representative Steve Chabot have jointly proposed the act.

Their Congressional colleagues Democrat Gerry Connolly, Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, Democrat Albio Sires and Republican Ken Buck have joined Sherman and Chabot for the introduction of the act.

Sherman and Chabot said in the statement that it is the U.S. policy to refer to Taiwan as "Taiwan", not "Taipei" or "Chinese Taipei", so the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA) was renamed "Taiwan Council for U.S. Affairs" (TCUSA) in 2019. The TCUSA is a counterpart to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan.

"Following this longstanding policy, the Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act directs the Secretary of State to enter into negotiations with the Taiwan Council for U.S. Affairs to rename the Council's office in Washington, D.C., the Taiwan Representative Office in the United States," the congressmen said in the statement.

At present, Taiwan's representative office in the U.S. is called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO).

"Taiwan is an important democratic ally of the United States. Yet, it would be surprising for most Americans to know that Taiwan's office in Washington still includes 'Taipei' in its name," Sherman said in the statement.

"This bill simply says that it is time for the State Department, and Congress, to take action to elevate our relationship with Taiwan. We should also be taking action to encourage more robust engagement between U.S. and Taiwanese officials," he said.

In addition, Sherman and Chabot said the Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act also includes the Taiwan Envoy Act, which was introduced by the two congressmen in the last U.S.Congress to require Senate confirmation of any individual appointed to serve as the Director of the AIT.

"By changing TECRO's name to the Taiwan Representative Office and making the Director of the AIT Senate confirmable, we will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to robust relations with Taiwan," he added.

Sherman and Chabot also pointed out that currently Taiwanese officials and diplomats do not receive diplomatic visas from the U.S., but are provided investor visas instead. They said such a practice does not accurately represent their purpose in the U.S., as official representatives from Taiwan.

The two congressmen said the Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act will create a new visa category which applies to Taiwanese officials only, and the new visa category is not only beneficial for Taiwanese representatives in the U.S., but also paves the way for closer government ties between the U.S. and Taiwanese officials.

Echoing Sherman, Chabot said he was pleased to introduce the Act.

"As a founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, I have consistently worked to strengthen our bilateral relationship with Taiwan," Chabot said in the statement.

He said he believed the Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act will "ensure that Taiwan's representatives here are accorded the dignity they deserve and to strengthen congressional oversight over Taiwan policy."

"As our two countries grow steadily closer, this critical legislation will bring necessary improvements to the interactions between our two governments," Chabot added.

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