United States opens de facto embassy in Taiwan as China trade tensions escalate

Politicians and officials — including Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen — pose during the dedication ceremony Tuesday for the American Institute in Taiwan the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taipei

Politicians and officials — including Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen — pose during the dedication ceremony Tuesday for the American Institute in Taiwan the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taipei

The United States formally unveiled its new de facto embassy in Taiwan on Tuesday, signalling its continued commitment to help defend the island amid escalating tensions between Taipei and mainland China. The policy dictates that the USA formally recognize only one Chinese government - the Communist apparatus based in Beijing - and officially eschew relations with a Taiwanese government, which has proclaimed itself the "Republic of China". "It interferes with China's internal affairs and negatively impacts China-US relations".

Among other officials attending the ceremony was Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, whose independence-leaning administration Beijing has sought to isolate diplomatically and threatens with invasion.

The American Institute in Taiwan has functioned as Washington's de facto embassy in democratic self-ruled island Taiwan since 1979.

In March, Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which aims to increase travel and visits "at all levels", including state officials and business leaders, both on the USA and the Taiwanese side.

But the AIT said in a statement Sunday that Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, will visit Taiwan June 10-14 and attend the ceremony.

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

"It represents much more than steel and glass and concrete", Royce said at the ceremony.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Beijing was "gravely concerned" with the inauguration of the building.

Apart from keeping to a schedule suggested by fengshui experts hired by the AIT, its employees and staff, led by Moy and his wife, were holding incense and praying for good luck behind a table placed with fruit and flowers as offerings to the gods before the ceremony - a common practice for businesses in Taiwan on special occasions. In March, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that encourages high-level exchanges of officials with Taiwan.

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

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

"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". The United States opened AIT shortly after terminating formal ties with Taipei - a diplomatic workaround that has irked Beijing.

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".

Still, the United States has not sold F-35 fighter jets, as requested by Taipei, offered actual submarines or docked a naval vessel in Taiwan despite talk in Washington.

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