U.S. officially opens new de facto embassy in Taiwan

Senator Rubio speaking at an event in Florida in 2015

Senator Rubio speaking at an event in Florida in 2015

With the world's attention focused a few thousand miles southwest, where President Donald Trump was shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a historic summit in Singapore, diplomats and businesspeople gathered in Taiwan's capital to mark another kind of milestone.

The United States formally unveiled its new de facto embassy in Taiwan on Tuesday, signalling its continued commitment to help defend the island amid escalating tensions between Taipei and mainland China.

Moy said the new building was "a symbol of the close cooperation and enduring friendship between the United States and Taiwan".

China has urged the United States to avoid having official contacts with Taiwan or improving relations in substantive ways.

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

"The friendship between Taiwan and the USA has never been more promising", Tsai said.

"The new office complex is a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, attended the dedication ceremony with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.

The United States cut its formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, recognizing the communist rulers in Beijing as the country's sole government as part of a "One China" policy.

But the USA still enjoys a "robust unofficial relationship" with the island nation of 23 million people, according to the State Department.

Washington's decision to "slightly upgrade relations" is mainly due to its disillusionment with China and the ascension of a more hawkish view toward China in the Trump administration, said Denny Roy, a fellow at the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu. In March, he signed the Taiwan Travel Act that encourages high-level visits between the two sides. In February, Trump signed into law the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows top US officials to visit the island. China also has recently pointedly conducted several military drills in the Taiwan strait and around the island.

During the ceremony, USA 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 United States and Taiwan partnership in the 21st century".

Kin Moy, director of the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT), told the news agency that the embassy will be used as a representative office later this summer. Royce is the wife of U.S. House Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.), one of the most outspoken supporters for strengthening U.S. -Taiwan ties in Congress.

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