United States unveils new de facto embassy in Taiwan

United States unveils new de facto embassy in Taiwan

The United States on Tuesday unveiled a new $255 million de facto embassy in Taiwan in what was hailed as a "milestone" in relations, as the self-ruled island comes under increasing pressure from China.

"AIT's new office complex is a testament to the strong United States commitment to Taiwan, the close and cooperative ties between our people and the enduring friendship between the USA and Taiwan", AIT Chairman James Moriarty said in a statement posted on the Institute's website.

To officials in the US and Taiwan, Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony in Taipei symbolizes the strength of their partnership.

"We have faced many trials along this journey, but we have risen to the challenge at every turn, knowing that our shared commitment to democracy would see us through", said Royce, the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.

Donald Trump's administration is moving to strengthen ties with Taiwan in the face of China's diplomatic moves and military threats.

The US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979 but maintains economic, political and security ties with Taiwan, according to AFP. And last month, the White House accused China of "Orwellian nonsense" for demanding that global airlines refer to Taiwan as a part of China on their websites.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, told the crowd at the dedication ceremony that the building marks "a new chapter in a story that has been decades in the making".

Tsai's ruling Democratic Progressive Party says it wants stable relations with China, but hasn't followed Tsai's predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, in endorsing the "one China" principle.

The AIT will move into its new complex later this year.

"There's actually a lot going on in the region today, and we need to respect that truth", said AIT Chairman James Moriarty, alluding to the Singapore summit happening on the same day.

The sprawling new site occupies 6.5 hectares, including Chinese gardens, in Taipei's Neihu district.

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

Senior officials from the United States and Taiwan, including the island's President Tsai Ing-wen, attended a ceremony held at the American Institute of Taiwan that was built at a cost of $250 million (Rs 1,663 crore), reported South China Morning Post. Beijing has claimed the island as a breakaway Chinese province and has vowed to take it by force, if necessary.

Despite condemnations from China, the U.S. continues to sell advanced weapons to the island under the Taiwan Relations Act for its self-defense against a much bigger Chinese military. The U.S. also agreed to shift its official diplomatic focus to Beijing over Taipei.

Beijing has also increased the frequency of military exercises in the last few months, including deploying its own aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in the Taiwan Strait.

"We must draw a red line for the U.S. and Taiwan".