The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA; Pub.L. 96-8, 93 Stat. 14, enacted April 10, 1979; H.R. 2479) is an act of the United States Congress passed in 1979 after the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the breaking of relations between the United States and the Republic of China (ROC) on the island of Taiwan by President Jimmy Carter. It more clearly defines the American position on Taiwan and its cross-strait relationship with Beijing. It was drafted by Harvey Feldman.
The act authorizes quasi-diplomatic relations with the "governing authorities on Taiwan" (the Republic of China government) by giving special powers to the American Institute in Taiwan to the level that it is the de facto embassy, and states that any international obligations previously made between the ROC and U.S. before 1979 are still valid unless otherwise terminated. One agreement that was unilaterally terminated by President Carter upon the establishment of relations was the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty; that termination was the subject of the Supreme Court case Goldwater v. Carter.
The act provides for Taiwan to be treated under U.S. laws the same as "foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities". The act provides that for most practical purposes of the U.S. government, the absence of diplomatic relations and recognition will have no effect.
The act does not recognize the terminology of "Republic of China" after Jan. 1, 1979. It defines the term "Taiwan" to include, as the context may require, the islands of Taiwan (the main Island) and Penghu, which form the Taiwan Province and Taipei and Kaohsiung cities. The act does not apply to Jinmen, the Matsus, the Pratas or Taiping Island.
The act stipulates that the United States will "consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States".
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