Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

United States unveils new de facto embassy in Taiwan

United States unveils new de facto embassy in Taiwan

Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, was one of the representatives for the USA government, with many officials accompanying President Donald Trump for his summit in Singapore with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

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.

China has lodged stern representations with the United States over its official exchanges with Taiwan, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday that USA officials who attended activities in Taiwan under "whatever excuse" were violating diplomatic accords and meddling in China's internal affairs.

"I offer you this", he said, "a tangible symbol that the United States is here to stay".

"The friendship between Taiwan and the US has never been more promising", Tsai said.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, told the crowd at the dedication ceremony that the building marks "a new chapter in a story that has been decades in the making".

Marie Royce, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said that the opening of the new complex represented the strengthening of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Taiwan, which have been almost nonexistent since 1979.

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

In Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman later Tuesday expressed "grave concern" over the US government's decision to send a senior official to attend the AIT ceremony, saying it violated the one-China principle and interfered in China's domestic affairs.

Gardner is one of the co-sponsors of the recently introduced "Taiwan International Participation Act" which would instruct the U.S. State Department to take a more active role in promoting Taiwan's participation in international organizations. In March, he signed the Taiwan Travel Act that encourages high-level visits between the two sides.

Taiwan also risks being sidelined in Washington if Trump feels satisfied that China has addressed its massive trade surplus with the US, said retired strategic studies professor Lin Chong-pin.

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

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is seen in Taipei, Taiwan, June 2, 2018.

The US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979 but maintains close economic, political and security ties with Taiwan.

While Taiwan's relationship with the United States is essential to its security, it must also guard against provoking China, its biggest military threat but also the dominant market for the island's export-driven economy.

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