Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

U.S. unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

U.S. unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

The United States unveiled a new $256 million representative office in Taiwan's capital on Tuesday, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington's strategic ties with the democratic, self-ruled island as it faces escalating tensions with China.

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry said they had lodged "stern representations" with Washington about the new building and the visit of the senior USA diplomat.

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

"The friendship between Taiwan and the USA has never been more promising". "The great story of Taiwan-U.S. relations remains to be filled with the efforts of those that will one day occupy this building".

But the USA still enjoys a "robust unofficial relationship" with the island nation of 23 million people, according to the State Department.

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Over the past several months, global companies like Marriott, Zara, and Qantas issued public apologies after Chinese authorities reprimanded them for referring to Taiwan as an independent country on their websites.

"We should all be proud of this milestone, which is a symbol of the close cooperation and enduring friendship between the United States and Taiwan", Moy said at the dedication ceremony.

In Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman later Tuesday expressed "grave concern" over the USA government's decision to send a senior official to attend the AIT ceremony, saying it violated the one-China principle and interfered in China's domestic affairs.

Tsai has also refused to acknowledge the "1992 consensus" that there is only "one China" and that Taiwan forms part of it. Beijing say the principle forms the basis of any ties between the mainland and Taiwan. In March, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that encourages high-level exchanges of officials with Taiwan. In February, Trump signed into law the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows top US officials to visit the island.

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

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The recently completed American Institute in Taiwan office in a suburb of the capital Taipei will house US representatives and serves American interests in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Meanwhile, the AIT is happily plowing ahead with its big move.

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 United States and Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

The new building is a significant upgrade from the low-key military building that AIT has used for decades and will serve as the representative office later this summer, said AIT Director Kin Moy at the opening ceremony.

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