US State Dept official to visit Taiwan for de facto embassy unveiling

Flickr  wei zheng wang Washington Wants to Play'Taiwan Card to Exert Pressure on China- Analysts

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce hailed the new complex during its unveiling event on Tuesday, saying it represented the close bond between the U.S. and 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. Moy will then step down next week with no successor named to replace him, adding to the 47 other USA diplomatic missions around the world that now don't have ambassadors. "The new office complex is a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

Royce is the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.

The American Institute in Taiwan is not an official embassy, but a non-profit institution established by the USA government to represent its interest since Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 under the One China policy.

The US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979 but maintains close economic, political and security ties with Taiwan. It manages its relations through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). "The great story of Taiwan-U.S. relations remains to be filled with the efforts of those that will one day occupy this building".

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The new base for the American Institute in Taiwan is said to be the strongest and most secure structure ever built on the island, made with blast-proof materials over almost 10 years.

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 U.S. and Chinese governments told the South China Morning Post earlier this month. Further complicating matters, Trump broke diplomatic protocol after winning the 2016 presidential election by accepting a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai Ing-wen.

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

Geng said the ministry urged the United States to uphold the "one China" policy and avoid damaging China-U.S. relations, as well as "peace and stability" in the Taiwan Strait.

The widely read Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times on Tuesday said China needed to warn Taiwan and the U.S. against provocation. The organization, which was first established in 1979 after the diplomatic shift, plans to officially relocate to the new facility this fall.

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