New AIT complex unveiled as symbol of 'strong USA commitment to Taiwan'

James Moriarty Marie Royce Tsai Ing-wen William Moser Kin Moy

U.S. Angers China by Opening De Facto Embassy in Taiwan AP

"The new office complex is a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

Washington gave up official diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 to recognise Beijing, but it remains the island's most powerful ally and top arms supplier.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce were among the dignitaries on hand for Tuesday's unveiling ceremony for the new $256 million American Institute in Taipei, which serves U.S. interests in the absence of formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. 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.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has been aiming to take advantage of the dedication and the visit by senior U.S. officials to push for further liberalization of arms sales, technological transfers, as well as possible port calls by United States warships.

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

As SCMP reported earlier - citing unnamed United States officials - the U.S. is mulling sending warships, including carrier forces, through the Taiwan Strait.

"I think Taiwan-U.S. relations have improved in appearance, not in substance", said Chen I-hsin, an emeritus professor of diplomacy in Taiwan.

However, Templeman suggested the ceremony should not be interpreted as revealing the Trump administration's Taiwan policy in general.

"The opening tomorrow of the new AIT headquarters shows how important our relationship is to the U.S.", the Republican lawmaker from MS said. The box will be sealed and buried somewhere in the new complex, according to the AIT. China also has recently pointedly conducted several military drills in the Taiwan strait and around the island.

"We urge the US to abide by its pledge to China and correct its mistake to avoid harming China-US relations and peace in the Taiwan Strait".

Trump decided not to send cabinet-level officials to the opening ceremony to avoid further antagonising Beijing amid other tensions over trade and China's claims to much of the South China Sea, sources with ties to the United States and Chinese governments told the South China Morning Post earlier this month.

The opening of the new facility angered Beijing.

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