US unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions

US unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions

TAIPEI-Tuesday is a big day for China, thanks to the Trump administration-and not only because the USA president plans to meet with the leader of North Korea.

America's de facto embassy in Taiwan has reopened after a $250m renovation, with an attending United States official hailing the new building as "a symbol of strength and vibrancy" of the relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan.

Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but remains the island's strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier. To officials in the US and Taiwan, Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony in Taipei symbolizes the strength of their partnership.

Washington also agreed to help Taipei build its own submarines, a move which Chinese media said made war "more probable" between China and Taiwan.

But the AIT said in a statement Sunday that Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, will visit Taiwan June 10-14 and attend the ceremony.

Also among the guests of honour were William Moser, principal deputy director of the US Overseas Office, and US Congressman Gregg Harper, co-chairman of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

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China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai was elected in 2016. It's an issue that's come to the fore as China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory - to be united with the mainland by force if necessary - has accelerated efforts to convince the few countries that still have diplomatic ties with Taiwan to end them.

It bars Taiwan from membership in the United Nations and many other global organisations and has been luring away the island's remaining diplomatic allies.

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

China has also stepped up military drills, sending bombers and jet fighters on exercises near the island that Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

Earlier speculation suggested that President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton could visit Taiwan for the unveiling of the new AIT complex, a move that will certainly provoke Beijing, which opposes interactions of high-level officials between the US and Taiwan.

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