Taipei, June 12 (IANS): The US on Tuesday inaugurated a new de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties with the island and amid growing tension with China.
The unveiling of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) was attended by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen and Premier William Lai, Efe news reported.
“AIT’s new office complex is a testament to the strong US commitment to Taiwan, the close and cooperative ties between our people and the enduring friendship between the US and Taiwan,” AIT Chairman James Moriarty said in a statement posted on the Institute’s website.
“The friendship between Taiwan and the US has never been more promising,” Tsai said.
The AIT building, spread over 6.5 hectares (16 acres) of land, costs around $250 million and will employ more than 500 people and would be protected by US Marines.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and Congressman Gregg Harper also attended the inauguration.
Earlier in the day, Beijing reacted sharply to the inauguration and said the presence of US representatives at the inauguration may pose as an interference in China’s internal affairs.
“We urge the US to redress its wrong doings and avoid damaging China-US ties, peace and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, adding they have already filed a formal complaint with the US over its relationship with Taiwan.
China argues that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic and insists countries can only have official diplomatic relations with the mainland and not Taiwan.