Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Taipei, Taiwan (4E) – The United States continues to strengthen its ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) — and angering communist China in the process — with the opening of a new complex housing its quasi embassy in the capital, Taipei.
Built at a cost of $256 million, the new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) complex at the Neihu District will perform the functions usually ascribed to a full-fledged embassy. AIT Director Kin Moy said the sprawling complex will open later this summer.
AIT is officially a non-profit organization established by the U.S. government to serve its interests in Taiwan. It’s mostly staffed by employees of the U.S. Department of State. AIT processes visas and provides consular services to American expatriates. It’s served as the United States’ quasi embassy in Taiwan after Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979. The U.S. however, remains Taiwan’s strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier.
The complex occupies 6.5 hectares, including Chinese gardens, and is staffed by nearly 500 American and local employees. The AIT branch in Kaohsiung branch has more than 30 staff.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new quasi embassy complex is a reaffirmation of both sides’ commitment to a “vital relationship.” So long as both Taiwan and the U.S. stand together, nothing could can between them, she added.
“The friendship between Taiwan and the U.S. has never been more promising,” said Tsia. “The great story of Taiwan-U.S. relations remains to be filled with the efforts of those that will one day occupy this building.”
The unveiling of the complex is a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership, according to Marie Royce, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. She’s the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.
“We have faced many trials along this journey, but we have risen to the challenge at every turn, knowing that our shared commitment to democracy would see us through,” said Royce.
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