United States unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

Lester Mason
June 12, 2018

Tsai, who leads the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, has refused Beijing's demand that she recognize Taiwan as a part of China, leading to a prolonged freeze in relations that had been gradually warming under her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the pro-unification Nationalist Party.

"High-level visits can be arranged at any time, not just when AIT inaugurates a new building", Templeman told the Guardian.

Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and the wife of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, will represent the Trump Administration to join President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and AIT Chairman James Moriarty for the AIT event on Tuesday. "The great story of Taiwan-U.S. relations remains to be filled with the efforts of those that will one day occupy this building", Tsai said.

Beijing has sought to increase political pressure on the island, halting any cross strait dialogue and isolating it internationally by poaching its few overseas diplomatic allies.

Also among the guests of honour were William Moser, principal deputy director of the US Overseas Office, and US Congressman Gregg Harper, co-chairman of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

So long as both sides stood together, nothing could come between them, she added.

The new base for the American Institute in Taiwan is said to be the strongest and most secure structure ever built on the island, made with blast-proof materials over almost 10 years.

During the ceremony, United States ambassador James Moriarty and Royce reiterated Washington's commitment to uphold the relationship with Taiwan, calling the new facility "a symbol of strength and vibrancy of the U.S. and Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

"We have faced many trials along this journey, but we have risen to the challenge at every turn, knowing that our shared commitment to democracy would see us through", said Royce, the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.

Taiwan also risks being sidelined in Washington if Trump feels satisfied that China has addressed its massive trade surplus with the USA, said retired strategic studies professor Lin Chong-pin. AIT's Taipei office has almost 500 American and local employees, while its Kaohsiung branch has more than 30 staff. Incumbent AIT director Kin Moy is expected to leave Taipei following the dedication of the new compound.

China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai was elected in 2016. "We must draw a red line for the USA and Taiwan", Global Times said through the editorial.

Taiwan recently lost two diplomatic allies after they switched ties to China, while some global companies have changed their websites to show the island's designation as being part of China.

Still, the United States has not sold F-35 fighter jets, as requested by Taipei, offered actual submarines or docked a naval vessel in Taiwan despite talk in Washington.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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