The US unveiled last Tuesday a new $256m representative office, the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT), in Taipei, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington's strategic ties with the self-ruled island, amid escalating tensions with China, news wires reported.
The US unveiled last Tuesday a new $256m representative office, the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT), in Taipei, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington's strategic ties with the self-ruled island, amid escalating tensions with China, news wires reported. In comments certain to angry Beijing, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new complex was a reaffirmation of both sides commitment to a “vital relationship”. “The friendship between Taiwan and the US has never been more promising,” she said.
Marie Royce, US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said at a ceremony to mark the unveiling that the complex was a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership. “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, who is the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.
The sprawling new site occupies 6.5 hectares in Taipei's Neihu district and employs nearly 500 American and local staff. The opening ceremony was attended by scores of high-ranking Taiwan officials as well as senior business executives. The new complex, a significant upgrade from the low-key military building the AIT had used for decades, will serve as the representative office later this summer, AIT Director Kin Moy said.
Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but remains the island's strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier. It opened the AIT to conduct relations between the two sides after severing ties. China claims self-ruled Taiwan under its “one China” policy, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it sees as a wayward province under its control. China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai was elected in 2016.