Senior US official, lawmaker in Taiwan for office dedication

Marie Royce, assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs at the US State Department will represent the Trump administration to

Earlier speculation suggested that President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton could visit Taiwan for the unveiling of the new AIT complex, a move that will certainly provoke Beijing, which opposes interactions of high-level officials between the US and Taiwan.

The US Assistant Secretary of State on Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce, will visit Taiwan's capital Taipei to attend a ceremony opening a new building housing the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), widely acknowledged as the de facto American embassy to Taiwan.

Royce is the wife of pro-Taiwan congressman and House foreign affairs committee chairman Ed Royce.

A career member of the US Foreign Service, Christensen also served at the US embassy in Beijing and was last posted in Taiwan during former president Ma Ying-jeou's second term and maintained cordial relations with Taiwan's major parties.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has been aiming to take advantage of the dedication and the visit by senior USA officials to push for further liberalization of arms sales, technological transfers, as well as possible port calls by United States warships.

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.

There have also been expressions of support for Taipei from USA officials and lawmakers in the face of growing pressure from Beijing, which has lured away Taiwan's allies and blocked the island's participation in worldwide events. "Taiwan authorities on the many partnerships and exchanges between the USA and Taiwan".

As the South China Sea standoff is ongoing and remains unsettled, Sino-American relations also remain at odds. The US is reportedly considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, probably an aircraft carrier, US officials said last week.

Before she departs on Thursday, Royce will also hold discussions with Taiwan government officials concerning partnerships and exchanges between Taiwan and the US said the AIT in a statement. That came after he was presented with a top honour by the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in September, recognising outstanding contributions to the island's development.

US Representative Gregg Harper, a co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, will also attend the dedication ceremony.

During her visit, Marie Royce will hold talks with local officials on partnerships and exchanges between the United States and Taiwan, meet alumni of U.S. exchange programmes, and engage with the local and foreign business community on entrepreneurship and the business climate, according to the institute.

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