Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

New U.S. Taiwan Office Prompts Questions Over Who Will Lead It

New U.S. Taiwan Office Prompts Questions Over Who Will Lead It

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.

Marie Royce, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said that the opening of the new complex represented the strengthening of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Taiwan, which have been almost nonexistent since 1979.

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 United States cut its formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, recognizing the communist rulers in Beijing as the country's sole government as part of a "One China" policy. A month later, the Department of Defense agreed to give American contractors marketing licenses for diesel-electric submarine technology sought by Taiwan's armed forces.

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However, the complex has drawn the ire of Beijing, which affirms that Taiwan is still a part of China.

"The United States sending officials to Taiwan under any excuses is in serious violation of the "one China" principle," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen attended the ceremony and said that as a free and open democracy, Taiwan has an obligation to work with others to defend shared values and protect joint interests.

The site spreads over 6.5 hectares, including Chinese gardens, in Taipei's Neihu district.

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Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, was one of the representatives for the USA government, with many officials accompanying President Donald Trump for his summit in Singapore with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un. Earlier this month, the Dominican Republic established diplomatic relations with China and severed ties with Taiwan.

"This day was years in the making so we can credit Bush, Obama, and Trump for following through on the facility", said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S. -Taiwan Business Council. Taiwanese media United Daily News reported that key materials used in its construction were imported from the United States, and the buildings in the complex could withstand certain levels of attacks.

In December 2016, then President-elect Trump accepted a precedence-shattering phone call from Tsai to congratulate him on his election victory, marking the highest-level contact between the two sides in nearly 40 years. Trump, meanwhile has appointed several proponents of better US-Taiwan relations since taking power.

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.

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