U.S. Marines to be posted at new AIT building in Taipei

U.S. Marines will be stationed at the new de facto American embassy in Neihu later this year

U.S. Marines from Marine Barracks Washington march by Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- U.S. Marines will be posted at the new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) complex which is slated to be completed later this year, according to former AIT Director Stephen Young (楊甦棣).

During a speech in U.S. policy seminar at the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington D.C., Young said that the U.S. would be in charge of security at the new compound, which will be based in Taipei's Neihu District, and that having the Marines stand guard at the facility would be a "symbolic expression of the U.S. commitment to its friends in Taiwan."

In the past, the United States always sent the Marine Corps to provide security for overseas embassies and consulates, but after severing relations with Taiwan in 1979, the two countries continued to maintain "unofficial relations," through the AIT, which is officially a non-profit "non-governmental organization," with no Marines stationed. However it is understood that since 2005, the U.S. began stationing military officers in AIT Taipei office location, but with no military uniform.

If the AIT really does position Marines at the Neihu compound, it will signify that it have a status more in keeping with other U.S. embassies around the world, and will represent a new era in U.S.-Taiwan relations. 

Young said that the Marine House serves as a foreign friendship center in every country it is based in and having such facilities at the new AIT compound will symbolize the United States' commitment to Taiwan. 

Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Stanley Kao (高碩泰) said the U.S. is taking this action to ensure the security of its foreign diplomats and the outside world should not read too much into this. 

The U.S. State Department has yet to comment on the reports of Marines being stationed in the new AIT office.