Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Washington opens de facto embassy in Taiwan, angering China

AIT Chairman James Moriarty with AIT Director Kin Moy and Vice President Chen Chien-jen AIT Chairman James Moriarty with AIT Director Kin Moy and Vice President Chen Chien-jen
Deanna Wagner | 14 June, 2018, 16:28

The US on Tuesday inaugurated a new de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties with the island and amid growing tension with China.

"AIT's new home is both a tangible symbol that reflects the strength of our ties and a state-of-the-art facility that will make possible even greater cooperation for years to come", said Royce, the wife of pro-Taiwan congressman and House foreign affairs committee chairman Ed Royce.

For the opening of the new compound, the United States sent Marie Royce, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, as its highest attendee.

During the ceremony, USA ambassador James Moriarty and Royce reiterated Washington's commitment to uphold the relationship with Taiwan, calling the new facility "a symbol of strength and vibrancy of the USA and Taiwan partnership in the 21st century". The U.S. severed official diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 to uphold Beijing's "One China" policy, which maintains that the breakaway territory is part of the People's Republic and can be reunified by force, if necessary.

For instance, he said, in the U.S. Congress, Republicans and Democrats do not always get along, but "we recently passed the Taiwan Travel Act unanimously". Beijing has been more hostile since Tsai was elected Taiwan's president in 2016 because she refuses to recognise the "one China" policy.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Tuesday said it had lodged stern representations with the USA about the new AIT building.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new complex reaffirmed the "vital relationship" between Washington and Taipei. "High-level visits can be arranged at any time, not just when AIT inaugurates a new building", Templeman told the Guardian.

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The sprawling new site occupies 6.5 hectares, including Chinese gardens, in Taipei's Neihu district.

The spokesman also urged Washington to "correct the wrong" to avoid undermining Sino-U.S. relations and destabilize the Taiwan Strait. The United States opened AIT shortly after terminating formal ties with Taipei - a diplomatic workaround that has irked Beijing.

Some analysts say Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the most powerful Chinese leaders in decades, seems determined to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control during his time in office, something that would place him in the history books alongside Mao Zedong.

Still, the United States has not sold F-35 fighter jets, as requested by Taipei, offered actual submarines or docked a naval vessel in Taiwan despite talk in Washington.

In the past few months, the Trump administration also angered Beijing by authorizing United States manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as well as enacting the Taiwan Travel Act to encourage official visits between the U.S. and the island.

China has also stepped up military exercises and air patrols close to Taiwan.

"We must draw a red line for the U.S. and Taiwan".