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. Since the recognition of the People's Republic of China, the Act has defined the officially substantial but non-diplomatic relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan.
This summary is from Wikipedia.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
3/24/1979--Conference report filed in House.
(Conference report filed in House, H. Rept. 96-71) Taiwan Relations Act - Declares it to be the policy of the United States to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland and all other people of the Western Pacific area. Declares that peace and stability in the area are in the political, security, and economic interests of the United States, and are matters of international concern. States that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means and that any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes is considered a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States. States that the United States shall provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and shall maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan. Reaffirms as a commitment of the United States the preservation of human rights of the people of Taiwan. Declares that in furtherance of the principle of maintaining peace and stability in the Western Pacific area, the United States shall make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capacity as determined by the President and the Congress. Requires such determination of Taiwan's defense needs to be reviewed by United States military authorities in connection with recommendations to the President and the Congress. Directs the President to inform the Congress promptly of threats to the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan, and any danger to the United States interests arising from such threats. Specifies that the President and the Congress shall determine the appropriate action in response to any such danger. Stipulates that the absence of diplomatic relations with or recognition of Taiwan shall not affect U.S. laws relating to Taiwan. Authorizes the President or any department and agency to conduct and carry out programs, transactions, and other relations with respect to the people on Taiwan, including, but not limited to, the performance of services for the United States through contracts with commercial entities in Taiwan, in accordance with applicable laws of the United States. Stipulates that withdrawal of diplomatic recognition of the Government on Taiwan shall not affect, including actions in all United States courts, the ownership of, or other rights or interests in, real property or other things of value, nor the contractual obligations and debts of the people on Taiwan. Stipulates that whenever the application or a rule of law of the United States depends upon the law applied on Taiwan or compliance with such law, the law applied by the people on Taiwan shall be considered the applicable law for that purpose. Prohibits any United States agency, commission, or department from denying an export license application or revoking an existing export license for nuclear exports to the people on Taiwan based on the lack of diplomatic recognition by the United States of the Government of Taiwan. Permits Taiwan to be treated in the manner specified in the selection system for a separate immigration quota for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Allows Taiwan to sue and be sued in courts in the United States, in accordance with United States laws. Stipulates that all treaties and international agreements which were in force between the United States and Taiwan, known as the Republic of China, on December 31, 1978, and that multilateral conventions to which the United States and Taiwan are contracting parties shall continue in force between the United States and Taiwan unless terminated in accordance with law. Provides for the continued membership of the people on Taiwan in any international financial institution or any other international organization. Allows the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to provide insurance, reinsurance, loans, or guaranties for projects on Taiwan during the three year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, unrestricted by the $1,000 per capita income restriction of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Provides for relations between the United States and Taiwan to be conducted by or through the American Institute in Taiwan (or such comparable successor nongovernmental entity as the President may designate) and an instrumentality established by the people of Taiwan. Sets forth the duties the Institute may authorize any of its employees in Taiwan to perform, including, but not limited to, administration or taking from any person an oath, affirmation, affidavit, or deposition and any other acts such as are authorized to be performed for consular purposes which assist or protect the persons and property of citizens or entities of United States nationality. Stipulates that the Institute shall be treated as a tax-exempt organization. Authorizes U.S. departments and agencies to furnish and accept service to and from the Institute. Authorizes the President to extend to the instrumentality established by the people on Taiwan the same number of offices and complement of personnel as previously operated in the United States by the government recognized as the Republic of China prior to January 1, 1979. Authorizes the President to extend to the instrumentality established by the people on Taiwan privileges and immunities comparable to those provided to missions of foreign countries, upon the condition that similar privileges and immunities are extended on a reciprocal basis to the Institute. Authorizes U.S. departments and agencies to allow Federal officers and employees to separate from Federal service and accept employment with the Institute. Provides for the reinstatement of such employees with their former department or agency with no loss of rights and benefits. Stipulates that alien employees of U.S. departments and agencies be transferred to the Institute. Stipulates that employees of the Institute shall not be Federal employees. Exempts certain amounts received by employees of the Institute from taxation. Requires the Secretary of State to transmit to the Congress the text of any agreement to which the Institute is a part (or to the appropriate committees of the Senate and House of Representatives if such disclosure would be prejudicial to the national security of the United States). Directs the Secretary to report to the Congress every six months on the economic relations between the United States and the people on Taiwan. Requires that the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate monitor the implementation of the provisions of this Act; the operation and procedures of the Institute; the legal and technical aspects of the continuing relationship between the United States and Taiwan; and the implementation of the policies of the United States concerning security and cooperation in East Asia. Authorizes the appropriation of funds necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act. Makes this Act effective as of January 1, 1979.