Invitation of US congressmen done in accordance with the law: MOFA
By Joseph Yeh, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Inviting United States congressmen to visit Taiwan is an important national policy and such invitations are made in accordance with the law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
February 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
“Our invitations to visiting foreign guests are all conducted in accordance with related regulations,” MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia said at a press conference.
Visits by foreign lawmakers and officials are a must to boost closer ties and to enhance bilateral understanding, the spokesman said.
Hsia made the comments after a U.S. newspaper on Monday reported that, from 2006 to 2011, Taiwan was the second biggest sponsor of trips taken by American lawmakers .
Taiwan's government arranged more than 100 such trips over the six-year period, according to The Washington Post's review of 130,000 pages of disclosures collected by the website LegiStorm.com.
China is by far the biggest sponsor of these trips, with senior staffers reporting more than 200 trips during the same period.
U.S. lawmakers and senior congressional staff members reportedly took a total of 803 trips under the invitation of foreign governments in the six years, it said.
These trips are often arranged by lobbyists for foreign governments, though lobbyists are barred from organizing other types of congressional trips out of concern that this could be used to buy favor.
The Washington Post report came a week after the U.S. House Ethics Committee announced that it will continue to investigate U.S. Representative Bill Owens' 2011 trip to Taiwan.
The trip, which cost US$22,132, was ostensibly paid by Taiwan's Chinese Culture University (中國文化大學) on the grounds of “cultural exchanges,” but documents showed that New York-based lobbying firm Park Strategies was hired by MOFA to help organize the visit. MOFA has denied irregularities regarding Owens' trip to Taipei.