Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

US shows new de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions

US shows new de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions

In remarks at the ceremony, AIT Director Kin W Moy called the new building "a symbol of the close cooperation and enduring friendship between the United States and Taiwan".

But unofficial ties between the US and Taiwan have gotten stronger under the Trump administration, which hasn't gone over well with Beijing. In the 1970s, the U.S. State Department acknowledged this view and agreed not to meddle in the dispute.

Beijing has been exerting pressure on businesses and countries to officially consider Taiwan part of China - including successful efforts with certain airlines, Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic, which cut ties with Taiwan earlier this year.

"We urge the honor its words on the Taiwan issue, and redress its wrongdoing so as to avoid doing harm to China-US ties and peace and stability in cross-strait relations", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said as reported by AP.

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, several Taiwanese government officials and a US delegation attended the ceremony. "We must draw a red line for the United States and Taiwan", Global Times said through the editorial. Politicians from both nations are attending a ceremony to commemorate the US$ 250 million complex, which will open formally later this year.

The massive $256 million complex, complete with Chinese gardens, occupies 6.5 hectares and will house almost 500 American and local employees.

There was speculation that US President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton may attend the unveiling ceremony at the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) on June 12, which would have made him one of the most senior American officials to visit Taiwan since 1979 and likely drawn China's ire. Beijing has claimed the island as a breakaway Chinese province and has vowed to take it by force, if necessary.

"The opening tomorrow of the new AIT headquarters shows how important our relationship is to the U.S.", Gregg Harper (R-MS) told reporters in Taipei. The Republic of China, as Taiwan is officially known, is also a major purchaser of American-made military hardware and is among the top 10 USA trade partners with $65.3 billion in total two way trade during 2016. Beijing suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing.

In December 2016, then President-elect Trump accepted a precedence-shattering phone call from Tsai to congratulate him on his election victory, marking the highest-level contact between the two sides in nearly 40 years.

Despite condemnations from China, the United States continues to sell advanced weapons to the island under the Taiwan Relations Act for its self-defense against a much bigger Chinese military.

These included live-fire drills, sailing China's only aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, and dispatching its fighters and bombers for "encirclement patrols".

"We must draw a red line for the United States and Taiwan".

In March, Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which aims to increase travel and visits "at all levels", including state officials and business leaders, both on the U.S. and the Taiwanese side.

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