Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Unveils new $250 million office in Taiwan amid China tensions

Unveils new $250 million office in Taiwan amid China tensions

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

On Monday night, China's state-run tabloid Global Times published an editorial, suggesting Beijing should warn the U.S. and Taiwan of possible consequences for any provocative move.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen attended the opening ceremony, where she reaffirmed her government's commitment to its "vital relationship" with the U.S., Reuters reports.

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

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

Taiwan's military held an exercise last week that simulated a Chinese airborne assault on a major air base.

"This day was years in the making so we can credit Bush, Obama, and Trump for following through on the facility", said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S. -Taiwan Business Council.

The ceremony comes at a time when bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington have been severely tested over the ongoing trade negotiation and rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai was elected in 2016.

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is seen in Taipei, Taiwan, June 2, 2018. The non-profit institute is primarily staffed by employees of the U.S. State Department.

Tsai has also refused to acknowledge the "1992 consensus" that there is only "one China" and that Taiwan forms part of it. Beijing say the principle forms the basis of any ties between the mainland and Taiwan.

"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. It has previously condemned what it called China's "dollar diplomacy" campaign of luring away Taiwan's allies with promises of vast financial aid and investment.

Despite condemnations from China, the United States continues to sell advanced weapons to the island under the Taiwan Relations Act for its self-defense against a much bigger Chinese military.

In March, Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which aims to increase travel and visits "at all levels", including state officials and business leaders, both on the U.S. and the Taiwanese side. Trump, meanwhile has appointed several proponents of better US-Taiwan relations since taking power.

Kharis Templeman, a social science research associate at Stanford University's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific research center, said that given the delicate nature of the summit in Singapore, the Trump administration may have chosen not to use the occasion to make a strong symbolic statement.

Like this: