After the United States severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) and set up relations with the People's Republic of China, the Taiwan Relations Act was adopted by the United States Congress and subsequently signed into U.S. Public Law 96-8 on April 10, 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. In accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA) and its U.S. counterpart, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), were simultaneously established after the termination of diplomatic relations between the two countries on January 1, 1979.
The CCNAA and AIT were set up to administer and promote commercial, cultural and other relations between the peoples of Taiwan and the U.S. in the absence of full diplomatic ties. The CCNAA officially changed its name to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) through a mutual understanding and agreement between the CCNAA and AIT. TECRO has a representative office in Washington, D.C. while maintaining regional offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. Similarly, AIT has a main office in Taipei and a branch office in Kaohsiung of Taiwan.
The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) has provided a solid and lasting framework for substantive relations between the two countries since the United States broke official relations with Taiwan. The TRA pledged to "help maintain peace, security, and stability in the Western Pacific and to promote the foreign policy of the United States by authorizing the continuation of commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, and for other purposes." With that significant legislative step, a dynamic new era of partnership began between the two governments.
Through persistence, pragmatism, and patience, Taiwan survived to become one of the most prosperous, democratic, and politically mature countries in the world. Taiwan values the principles of democracy, free speech, human rights, religious freedom, humanitarianism, and market economics, which are hallmarks of the United States of America. As a direct consequence, the two countries' reciprocal commercial ties are expanding while cultural exchanges and agreements are flourishing. For example, in the U.S. Midwest the former Taiwan Province has established sister states with 12 states: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. More than 30 cities (counties) in the U.S. Midwest established sister cities with cities (counties) in Taiwan. For promoting bilateral trade, the states of Indiana and Missouri set up trade offices in Taipei. Many state-level congresses of the U.S. Midwest, including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, passed resolutions supporting Taiwan's re-participation into the United Nations. More than 7,000 students from Taiwan now are studying in the American Midwest.
In the commercial field, Taiwan has grown to become America's eighth largest trading partner globally, and fifth largest foreign market of American agricultural products. This amounts to U.S. sales averaging almost $50 million per day or about 25 percent more than U.S. sales to Mainland China. Total two-way trade between U.S. and Taiwan now exceeds $64 billion annually with reciprocal private investments also in the billions of dollars. Among the major exports from the Midwest region to Taiwan are industrial machinery, electronic and electrical equipment, agricultural products, chemicals, transportation equipment, rubber and assorted other products, etc. The major imports from Taiwan to the U.S. Midwest include computers, and their peripheral products, integrated circuitry, telecommunications products, textiles and apparel, and rubber products. The total value of all Taiwan commercial transactions with the United States (including trade, investment, foreign study, and tourism) is estimated to provide about 800,000 job opportunities in the United States every year. Clearly both countries have a stake in each other's future economic success.
In terms of security, America's defensive weapons sales to Taiwan, mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act, remain extremely important today, primarily because China has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan. Americans understand that besides being a good friend and model democracy, Taiwan occupies an important strategic position in the East Asia and Pacific Region; and therefore, as the Taiwan Relations Act declares, any threats to Taiwan's safety would be considered a matter "of grave concern" for U.S. interests. Maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait area not only strengthens regional stability, it also promotes regional
development and protects the national interests of other democracies.
Taiwan will continue to expand economically and culturally, as well as continuing security cooperation with the U.S. entering the new century. Not only does it directly serve the purposes of both our peoples, but the greater cause of regional stability and development.
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