Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

USA unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

USA unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

A dedication ceremony for the US$250 million four-storey office compound was attended on Tuesday morning by senior officials from Taiwan and the United States, including the island's President Tsai Ing-wen.

Local media also reported last week that a visit by a member of Trump's cabinet - secretary of health and human services Alex Azar - was a possibility.

AIT Chairman James Moriarty, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, yesterday said the new AIT complex is "an important symbol" of United States commitment to Taiwan.

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

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It is Moriarty's fourth visit since his appointment as AIT chairman in October 2016, the AIT said in a statement.

The new complex, a major upgrade from the low-key military building the AIT had used for decades, will serve as the representative office later this summer, said AIT Director Kin Moy.

In March, after Trump approved new rules allowing top USA officials to travel to the island, Beijing called on Washington to "correct its mistake". The move angered Beijing, which called on Washington to "correct its mistake".

Taiwan, meanwhile, has become increasingly marginalised on the global stage with the loss of diplomatic allies who previously recognised the government of the self-ruled island, but have now switched to Beijing.

With the world's attention focused a few thousand miles southwest, where President Donald Trump was shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a historic summit in Singapore, diplomats and businesspeople gathered in Taiwan's capital to mark another kind of milestone. The institute is expected to move in before the end of the year, according to the Straits Times.

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