USA unveils new ‘embassy’ in Taiwan amid strained China ties

Tuesday, 12 Jun, 2018

Moy said the new building was "a symbol of the close cooperation and enduring friendship between the United States and Taiwan".

The complex's opening marks the strengthening of diplomatic ties between Washington and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Marie Royce, assistant secretary of educational and cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, is now in Taiwan to participate in the dedication ceremony, scheduled for June 12, for the AIT's new office complex in Taipei's Neihu District.

In an opening address, Assistant US Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, described the sprawling five-story complex, which cost $255 million to build, as much more than mere bricks and mortar.

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

Image Zoom
Image Zoom

Taiwanese politicians, however, hope that more senior US officials such as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or national security adviser John Bolton may visit the island this autumn.

Apart from keeping to a schedule suggested by fengshui experts hired by the AIT, its employees and staff, led by Moy and his wife, were holding incense and praying for good luck behind a table placed with fruit and flowers as offerings to the gods before the ceremony - a common practice for businesses in Taiwan on special occasions. It manages its relations through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

"I think Taiwan-U.S. relations have improved in appearance, not in substance", said Chen I-hsin, an emeritus professor of diplomacy in Taiwan. China also has recently pointedly conducted several military drills in the Taiwan strait and around the island.

Taiwan-US relations have since been handled delicately and in a low-key manner through the AIT to avoid riling China - which sees the island as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary.

The widely read Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times on Tuesday said China needed to warn Taiwan and the USA against provocation. "High-level visits can be arranged at any time, not just when AIT inaugurates a new building", Templeman told the Guardian.

"The mainland must continue to build up its deterrence against Taiwanese authorities, making them know that the United States can not be their savior", it said in an editorial on the opening of the new office.