Washington opens de facto embassy in Taiwan, angering China

Washington opens de facto embassy in Taiwan, angering China

"AIT's new office complex is a testament to the strong USA commitment to Taiwan, the close and cooperative ties between our people and the enduring friendship between the U.S. and Taiwan", AIT Chairman James Moriarty said in a statement posted on the Institute's website. Taiwanese media United Daily News reported that key materials used in its construction were imported from the United States, and the buildings in the complex could withstand certain levels of attacks.

Some analysts say Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the most powerful Chinese leaders in decades, seems determined to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control during his time in office, something that would place him in the history books alongside Mao Zedong.

"I look forward 2 an even brighter chapter in our enduring friendship!"

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since 1949 but Beijing views the island as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. Tsai, who leads the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, has refused Beijing's demand that she recognize Taiwan as a part of China, leading to a prolonged freeze in relations that had been gradually warming under her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the pro-unification Nationalist Party.

The United States cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but remains the island's strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier. China also has recently pointedly conducted several military drills in the Taiwan strait and around the island.

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

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China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Tuesday said it had lodged stern representations with the United States about the new AIT building.

"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.

In December 2016, then President-elect Trump accepted a precedence-shattering phone call from Tsai to congratulate him on his election victory, marking the highest-level contact between the two sides in nearly 40 years.

The new base for the American Institute in Taiwan is said to be the strongest and most secure structure ever built on the island, made with blast-proof materials over almost 10 years. 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. 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.

In the past few months, the Trump administration also angered Beijing by authorizing USA manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as well as enacting the Taiwan Travel Act to encourage official visits between the United States and the island. At the opening ceremony, American Institute chairman James Moriarty referred to the Singapore summit and said it was important to respect its significance.

"It's been said before that Taiwan is being used as a bargaining chip, and so far we can not rule that out", Lin said. "China needs to make early preparation", the tabloid said.

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