United States officially opens new de facto embassy in Taiwan

United States officially opens new de facto embassy in Taiwan

Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, was one of the representatives for the U.S. government, with many officials accompanying President Donald Trump for his summit in Singapore with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

The US on Tuesday inaugurated a new de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties with the island and amid growing tension with China.

"We should all be proud of this milestone, which is a symbol of the close cooperation and enduring friendship between the United States and Taiwan", Moy said at the dedication ceremony. Since the USA established diplomatic ties with China almost four decades ago, Washington has acknowledged that claim and cut ties with Taiwan - formally, at least.

Moriarty emphasized that "the cultural relationship" and "people-to-people relationship" between Taiwan and the United States are "the strongest".

"Taiwan-U.S. relations appear to be more practical and closer than before, so Taiwanese people will have more expectations", ruling party legislator Lee Chun-yi said.

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. Fewer than 20 countries consider Taiwan as an independent government.

"I must point out that the US, by sending officials to Taiwan under whatever pretext, severely violates the one-China principle and three China-US joint communiques, interferes in China's internal affairs and exerts negative impact on China-US relations", Geng said during a news conference.

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Royce is the highest level official of the U.S. Department of State to visit Taiwan since 2015. This is despite the fact that no USA or worldwide law prohibits American officials, even the president, from traveling to Taiwan and meeting with Taiwanese counterparts.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan under its "one China" policy, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it sees as a wayward province under its control.

But unofficial ties between the US and Taiwan have gotten stronger under the Trump administration, which hasn't gone over well with Beijing.

During the ceremony, U.S. ambassador James Moriarty and Royce reiterated Washington's commitment to uphold the relationship with Taiwan, calling the new facility "a symbol of strength and vibrancy of the U.S. and Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

While Taiwan's relationship with the U.S. is essential to its security, it must also guard against provoking China, its biggest military threat but also the dominant market for the island's export-driven economy.

The unveiling of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) was attended by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen and Premier William Lai, Efe news reported.

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