US State Dept official to visit Taiwan for de facto embassy unveiling

Lester Mason
June 12, 2018

The U.S. will also be opening a new compound for its de facto embassy in Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China claims as its own and has been a longstanding flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.

The US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979 but maintains close economic, political and security ties with Taiwan. However U.S. lawmakers have continued to lobby to support Taiwan, and Washington still sells hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons to Taiwan, despite China's objections.

Commenting on US-Taiwan relations, Harper said that as the caucus co-chair, he would assure people in Taiwan that "in Washington DC, our commitment is as strong or stronger than ever, and will continue that way in the future".

The American Institute in Taiwan is not an official embassy, but a non-profit institution established by the U.S. government to represent its interest since Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 under the One China policy.

Also in attendance were Rep. Gregg Harper and Marie Royce, the USA assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

"Taiwan authorities on the many partnerships and exchanges between the USA and Taiwan". "The great story of Taiwan-U.S. relations remains to be filled with the efforts of those that will one day occupy this building".

The AIT said Royce will "also hold discussions with".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Beijing was "gravely concerned" with the inauguration of the building.

Yet, as NPR's Rob Schmitz explains, Washington has been creeping steadily closer to Taiwan under the Trump administration.

In March, President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act that encourages high-level visits between the two sides.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are also on the rise; over the last few months, China has reprimanded airlines and other businesses for referring to Taiwan as a nation and pressuring countries around the world to cut diplomatic ties.

"China and the United States are likely to face a new Taiwan Straits crisis sooner or later".

Meanwhile, the AIT is happily plowing ahead with its big move.

The US is embroiled in a major trade row with China, but is keen to avoid a diplomatic fallout as it needs Beijing's help to solve the North Korea nuclear issue.

From left: chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan James Moriarty, US assistant secretary of state for education and culture affairs Marie Royce, Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen, principal deputy director ambassador William Moser and AIT director Kin Moy.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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