U.S. beefs up official presence in Taiwan


On the morning of June 12, when Donald Trump went to Singapore to broker a deal with North Korea that very much furthers Beijing’s interests in northeast Asia, some American officials did the opposite in Taiwan.

  • The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which serves as the U.S.’s de facto embassy (formal relations were broken off in 1979, at China’s insistence), dedicated a new complex in Taipei worth $250 million, the New York Times reports (paywall).
  • A “who’s who of Taiwan politics” attended the opening ceremony, Taipei-based reporter Chris Horton said on Twitter. Taipei Times gives the highlights: President Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文, former president Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu 吳釗燮, and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je 柯文哲 all attended the ceremony.
  • But “no top official” — i.e., cabinet-level — from the U.S. came, the Times reports. The American guest list was topped by Marie Royce, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, the Times says.
  • Taiwan hopes to host a top U.S. official soon, the South China Morning Post reports. One Taiwanese lawmaker suggested that “we can anticipate” someone like National Security Adviser John Bolton to visit soon, while another admitted that the American decision to focus this time on the concurrent Singapore summit was understandable.
  • The Taiwan factor in U.S.-China relations, especially given that trade tensions are expected to ramp up with tariffs planned to hit just days from now, will continue to loom large, as it has throughout 2018 so far.
  • Royce and other officials at the AIT ceremony made clear that the U.S. will stand firm in its commitment to Taiwan, regardless of pressure from Beijing. Read more from Taiwan’s Central News Agency on comments from Royce, U.S. senators, the AIT head, the co-chair of the U.S. Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and the U.S. Department of State.