USA unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

USA unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

China's Foreign Ministry said yesterday it had lodged stern representations with the United States about the unveiling of the new de facto USA embassy in self-ruled Taiwan.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, leading the U.S. delegation, called the massive complex "a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the U.S. -Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

Trump decided not to send cabinet-level officials to the opening ceremony to avoid further antagonising Beijing amid other tensions over trade and China's claims to much of the South China Sea, sources with ties to the U.S. and Chinese governments told the South China Morning Post earlier this month. In the 1970s, the U.S. State Department acknowledged this view and agreed not to meddle in the dispute.

China formally protested the ceremony as a "serious violation of the "One China" principle" and said it "negatively impacts China-U.S. relations".

In comments certain to rile Beijing, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new complex was a reaffirmation of both sides commitment to a "vital relationship".

That month, the United States also reassured Taiwan that it would continue to strengthen bilateral trade, commercial, and investment relations, after Beijing threatened to reduce trade with Taiwan amid ongoing U.S.

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

The new AIT offices are being unveiled amid heightened concerns in Beijing over increasing United States involvement in Taiwan.

Journalists tour the new office complex of the American Institute in Taiwan during a dedication ceremony in Taipei
Journalists tour the new office complex of the American Institute in Taiwan during a dedication ceremony in Taipei

The spokesman also urged Washington to "correct the wrong" to avoid undermining Sino-U.S. relations and destabilize the Taiwan Strait.

The West African state of Burkina Faso said it was severing ties with Taiwan last month, following similar moves from the Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama.

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

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

China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016.

The ruling Communist Party's military wing, the People's Liberation Army, has sent fighter planes near Taiwan's coast a dozen times since Tsai's election and an aircraft carrier sailing through the 170-kilometer-wide strait that separates them.

She is also one of just a few U.S. officials to visit Taiwan after U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Taiwan Travel Act championed by Royce's husband, Rep. Ed Royce of California. "There's no escaping the fact that this is a significant symbol of the enduring U.S. commitment to Taiwan".

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