U.S. President Donald Trump signed off on the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA) Friday (March 16), as the White House said the law would open the door to more high-level exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan.

He declined to offer additional comments on putting pen to paper.

Trump had the option to allow the Act to pass into law without his signature, or to veto it and a spokesman had said the previous day that the president had not yet decided his position on the matter.

The TTA in theory allows high-level exchanges of government officials to take place both in Taiwan and the U.S., while also encouraging Taiwanese state institutions to promote business with local and federal U.S. officials.

However, the U.S. has always had the option to dispatch Cabinet-level officials to Taiwan, the last instance coming in 2014 with the visit to Taipei of then-administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.

Trump's decision to sign the document earned a rebuke from Beijing Saturday. “The relevant clauses of the Taiwan Travel Act severely violate the one-China principle,” a statement from the Chinese embassy in Washington said. “China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes it.” China urged the U.S. to halt any attempt to improve its relationship with Taiwan.

China views Taiwan as a province under the "one China" principle, agreed as part of the 1992 Consensus, a document signed between members of the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang party then ruling Taiwan.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has persistently refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus and its core concept of the "one China" principle since coming to power in 2016, a fact Beijing has taken as a reason to freeze bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

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