Published: Tue, June 12, 2018

USA unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions

USA unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions

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

"The friendship between Taiwan and the United States has never been more promising".

But the U.S. sent an assistant secretary of state for the unveiling, a visit less likely to unnerve China which was concerned that higher-level officials may attend.

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is seen in Taipei, Taiwan June 2, 2018.

During the ceremony, U.S. 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". Among officials attending Tuesday's ceremony was Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, whose independence-leaning administration Beijing has sought to isolate diplomatically and threatens with invasion.

Tsai hailed the complex as a new chapter in the "great story of US-Taiwan relations".

Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the Department of State, said in a congratulatory message to the AIT that through the AIT, the USA and Taiwan share values and enjoy close cooperation on a wide range of regional and global issues.

Beijing has sought to increase political pressure on the island, halting any cross strait dialogue and isolating it internationally by poaching its few overseas diplomatic allies.

Since Tsai came to power two years ago, Beijing has cut contact with her government because Taipei refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of "one China".

Earlier speculation suggested that President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton could visit Taiwan for the unveiling of the new AIT complex, a move that will certainly provoke Beijing, which opposes interactions of high-level officials between the US and Taiwan.

Beijing officials have described intensified Chinese military drills near the island as a warning against any moves to assert its sovereignty.

"It interferes with China's internal affairs and negatively impacts China-US relations".

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