Thursday, 19 July, 2018

Senior US official, lawmaker in Taiwan for office dedication

U.S. draws anger from China by reopening Taiwan 'embassy' Senior US official, lawmaker in Taiwan for office dedication
Jeannette Daniel | 12 June, 2018, 12:22

Taiwan papers have also reported that former AIT deputy director Brent Christensen would be promoted to lead Washington's diplomatic mission on the island.

"High-level visits can be arranged at any time, not just when AIT inaugurates a new building", Templeman told the Guardian.

Among other officials attending the ceremony was Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, whose independence-leaning administration Beijing has sought to isolate diplomatically and threatens with invasion.

It bars Taiwan from membership in the United Nations and many other global organisations and has been luring away the island's remaining diplomatic allies.

Commenting on US-Taiwan relations, Harper said that as the caucus co-chair, he would assure people in Taiwan that "in Washington DC, our commitment is as strong or stronger than ever, and will continue that way in the future".

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.

So long as both sides stood together, nothing could come between them, she added. "The new office complex is a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

More news: No Russia G7 return without Ukraine 'progress': Merkel

The completion of the new AIT offices - built over nine years at a cost of $250 million - comes amid closer US-Taiwan ties.

Taiwanese politicians, however, hope that more senior US officials such as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or national security adviser John Bolton may visit the island this autumn.

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry said they had lodged "stern representations" with Washington about the new building and the visit of the senior US diplomat. AIT's Taipei office has almost 500 American and local employees, while its Kaohsiung branch has more than 30 staff.

China has been ramping up pressure on Taiwan since the election in 2016, blocking the self-ruled island from participating in worldwide organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and poaching its diplomatic allies.

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. "We must draw a red line for the U.S. and Taiwan", Global Times said through the editorial.

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 United States and Chinese governments told the South China Morning Post earlier this month.

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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