USA unveils 'milestone' new de facto embassy in Taiwan

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 U.S. unveiled a new representative office in Taipei Tuesday, establishing a de facto embassy in the self-ruled island amid its escalating tensions with China.

But U.S. -Sino relations have soured in recent months among China's militarization of the South China Sea and ongoing trade disputes between the world's two leading economic powers.

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".

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

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

Marie Royce, US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said the complex was a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Marie Royce are expected to speak at today's event, the AIT said.

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

However, Templeman suggested the ceremony should not be interpreted as revealing the Trump administration's Taiwan policy in general. In March, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that encourages high-level exchanges of officials with Taiwan. As a result, Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but continues to act as a close ally and generous weapons supplier for the island nation.

Harper and his wife, Sidney, arrived on Sunday to attend today's dedication ceremony of the new office complex in Taipei's Neihu District (內湖).

Speaking with reporters before the ceremony commenced, both Moriarty and AIT Director Kin Moy defended the decision of the US government to send Royce to Taiwan for the dedication ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Beijing-based Global Times noted on the weekend that China had to be prepared for a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, following the conclusion of the island's annual anti-Chinese invasion drill, as well as a Reuters report that Washington could be considering sending a US Navy vessel through the strait.

China has also stepped up military exercises and air patrols close to Taiwan.

"The mainland must continue to build up its deterrence against Taiwanese authorities, making them know that the U.S. can not be their savior", it said in an editorial on the opening of the new office.

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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