United States unveils new ‘embassy’ in Taiwan amid strained China ties

James Moriarty Marie Royce Tsai Ing-wen William Moser Kin Moy

James Moriarty Marie Royce Tsai Ing-wen William Moser Kin Moy

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.

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. 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.

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.

That's because despite its innocuous name, the organization has long functioned as the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing considers a renegade Chinese province.

The U.S. switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979 but maintains close economic, political and security ties with Taiwan.

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

Following the beginning performances, including a passionate percussion show and the solemn singing of America's national anthem, the officials on the main stage, one after another, gave their remarks that were heavily centered around promoting the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S.

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is seen in Taipei, Taiwan, June 2, 2018.

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

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new building was a reaffirmation of commitment to a "vital relationship" between the U.S. and Taiwan. "It interferes with China's internal affairs and negatively impacts China-US relations".

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

"We urge the US to honor the commitments it has made to the Chinese side on the Taiwan issue and correct its wrong actions", Geng added Tuesday, "thus avoiding undermining China-US ties and cross-straits peace and stability".

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

The opening of the new facility angered Beijing.

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

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