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U.S. draws anger from China by reopening Taiwan 'embassy'

By
Sara Shayanian
U.S. and Taiwanese leaders reopen an office complex in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday that serves as the de facto American embassy on the autonomous island. Photo courtesy American Institute in Taiwan
U.S. and Taiwanese leaders reopen an office complex in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday that serves as the de facto American embassy on the autonomous island. Photo courtesy American Institute in Taiwan

June 12 (UPI) -- In a move that has incited anger from China, the U.S. government on Tuesday reopened what's considered the American embassy in Taiwan following a $255 million renovation.

The American Institute in Taiwan opened the new office complex in a ceremony in Taipei virtually at the same time President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

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Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, several Taiwanese government officials and a U.S. delegation attended the ceremony.

The institute said the complex is a reflection of the importance of U.S.-Taiwanese relations.

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"We should all be proud of this milestone, which is a symbol of the close cooperation and enduring friendship between the United States and Taiwan," AIT Director Kin W. Moy said.

The new offices, built by U.S. and Taiwanese workers, cost more than $255 million and was designed as an "expression of the values of American democracy, and a demonstration of respect for Taiwan."

In remarks during the ceremony, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Marie Royce said the new offices are a "tangible symbol" of strong U.S.-Taiwanese ties.

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The American Institute in Taiwan has represented the United States in Taipei since 1979, when the U.S. government formally adopted its "One China" policy. Under the policy, the United States recognizes only mainland China, even though Taiwan formally calls itself the Republic of China. As a result, the United States' Chinese Embassy is in Beijing. The non-profit institute is primarily staffed by employees of the U.S. State Department.

Tuesday's reopening was denounced by Beijing, which claims Taiwan as a territory. Further, Bejing refuses to acknowledge countries that recognize Taiwan as China. Fewer than 20 countries consider Taiwan as an independent government.

"The United States sending officials to Taiwan under any excuses is in serious violation of the 'one China' principle," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. "It interferes with China's internal affairs and negatively impacts China-U.S. relations."

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"We urge the U.S. to abide by its pledge to China and correct its mistake to avoid harming China-U.S. relations and peace in the Taiwan Strait."

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