New AIT complex unveiled as symbol of 'strong U.S. commitment to Taiwan'

Clay Curtis
June 12, 2018

And AIT Director Kin Moy, for one, said Tuesday he eagerly welcomes this "testament to this friendship, to the USA commitment to Taiwan, and to our staying power in Taiwan".

The American Institute in Taiwan, an unofficial non-profit organization, is staffed mostly with US Department of State employees and has handled unofficial ties between Washington and Taipei since 1979, after Washington switched its political leaning from Taipei to Beijing, and has been visited by US Cabinet-level officials previously.

With the world's attention focused a few thousand miles southwest, where President Donald Trump was shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a historic summit in Singapore, diplomats and businesspeople gathered in Taiwan's capital to mark another kind of milestone.

Also in attendance were Rep. Gregg Harper and Marie Royce, the US assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

A dedication ceremony for the US$250 million four-storey office compound was attended on Tuesday morning by senior officials from Taiwan and the United States, including the island's President Tsai Ing-wen.

A smiling Tsai said the new building was a symbol of "more promising" relations between Washington and Taipei.

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. 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.

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

However, Templeman suggested the ceremony should not be interpreted as revealing the Trump administration's Taiwan policy in general. The box will be sealed and buried somewhere in the new complex, according to the AIT.

"The opening tomorrow of the new AIT headquarters shows how important our relationship is to the U.S.", the Republican lawmaker from MS said.

"China and the United States are likely to face a new Taiwan Straits crisis sooner or later".

Meanwhile, the Beijing-based Global Times noted on the weekend that China had to be prepared for a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, following the conclusion of the island's annual anti-Chinese invasion drill, as well as a Reuters report that Washington could be considering sending a US Navy vessel through the strait.

The opening of the new facility angered Beijing.

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