Washington opens de facto embassy in Taiwan, angering China

12 June, 2018, 22:33 | Author: Wade Massey
  • American Institute in Taiwan

The opening of the new institute compound coincides with heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait in recent months, as mainland China ramps up the pressure on Taipei and has staged several military drills in the island's vicinity, SCMP notes.

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. However U.S. lawmakers have continued to lobby to support Taiwan, and Washington still sells hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons to Taiwan, despite China's objections.

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.

Taiwan's foreign ministry noted that before assuming her post, Royce had visited the island with her husband, US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a number of times.

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.

"Our friendship brings the best out of both our peoples", Royce said.

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

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China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Tuesday said it had lodged stern representations with the U.S. about the new AIT building.

Yet, as NPR's Rob Schmitz explains, Washington has been creeping steadily closer to Taiwan under the Trump administration. In March, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that encourages high-level exchanges of officials with Taiwan.

Taiwan papers have also reported that former AIT deputy director Brent Christensen would be promoted to lead Washington's diplomatic mission on the island.

The widely read Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times on Tuesday said China needed to warn Taiwan and the USA against provocation.

"China and the USA are likely to face a new Taiwan Straits crisis sooner or later". The box will be sealed and buried somewhere in the new complex, according to the AIT.

"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.

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.

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