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United States unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid tensions in China



TAIPEI (Reuters) – The United States will inaugurate on Tuesday a new $ 250 million representation office in Taiwan's capital, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington's strategic ties with the democratic and autonomous island as it faces growing tensions with China.

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is seen in Taipei, Taiwan on June 2, 2018. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

Washington cut diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, but remains the strongest ally and only foreign arms supplier. He opened the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) to conduct relations between the two parties after cutting ties.

The new complex, a significant update to the low-profile military building that the IWA had used for decades, will serve as the representative office later this summer, said AIT Director Kin Moy.

Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States, and United States Congressman Gregg Harper are expected to attend the ceremony on Tuesday.

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is under construction in Taipei, Taiwan June 2, 2018 REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

Royce is the highest ranking official of the State Department visiting Taiwan since 2015.

China asserts that Taiwan ruled under its "one China" policy and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it sees as a fractious province under its control.

The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is under construction in Taipei, Taiwan on June 2, 2018. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai Ing -wen was elected in 2016. Beijing Tsai suspects want to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for the leaders of the Communist Party in Beijing.

Tsai, who has said he wants to maintain the status quo but protects Taiwan's security and not be intimidated by Beijing, is expected to deliver a speech at the new AIT office on Tuesday.

The widely read Chinese state newspaper, the Global Times, said on Tuesday that China needed to warn Taiwan and the United States against the provocation.

"The continent must continue to develop its deterrence against the Taiwanese authorities, letting them know that the US can not be their saviors," he said in an editorial about the opening of the new office.

Taiwan lost two diplomatic allies recently after they changed their ties with China, while some international companies changed their websites to show that the designation of the island was part of China.

China has also intensified military exercises, sending bombers and fighter jets to exercises near the island that Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

Taiwan has pressured Washington to sell it more advanced equipment, including new combat aircraft, to strengthen its defenses.

Information from Jess Macy Yu; Additional reports by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Edition of Anne Marie Roantree and Darren Schuettler

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