New AIT complex ‘a tangible symbol of US-Taiwan friendship’: AIT director

AIT Director Kin Moy announced the date for the so-called dedication ceremony, which coincides with the meeting between the U.S. president and North Korean leader

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Director of the American Institute in Taiwan Kin Moy

Director of the American Institute in Taiwan Kin Moy (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The new complex of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei’s Neihu District is scheduled to be unveiled on June 12, confirmed AIT Director Kin W. Moy Monday, while declining to reveal which sitting or retired U.S. officials will attend the ceremony apart from AIT Chairman James F. Moriarty.

Who will be sent to the so-called dedication ceremony of the new AIT complex has been considered as a sign of the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S., and remained a tantalizing question for many people in Taiwan, especially after the Taiwan Travel Act (H.R. 535), proposed by the U.S. legislature to encourage mutual visits of American and Taiwanese officials at all levels, was enacted in March.

“There will certainly be good friends of Taiwan coming from Washington. And you will recognize a number of these good friends,” Moy said briskly, emphasizing that the focus of the ceremony should be to celebrate the new building, which serves as “a milestone for U.S.-Taiwan friendship”.

“Now, we will have a building worthy of this important relationship from which to carry out our work and continue to deepen our partnership,” said Moy in his remarks.

Earlier the Economist suggested that John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, could come to Taiwan for the ceremony as part of the Trump administration’s playing the Taiwan Card in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region.

However, during an interview with BBC Chinese, Chang Tien-chin (張天欽), deputy minister of Taiwan’s top office tackling cross-strait affairs, Mainland Affairs Council, said Bolton was unlikely to visit Taiwan in June, for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) considered such a move would further increase tension with China.

Even though the 6.5-hectare complex will be unveiled next month, the personnel of the office will not have completed relocation until later this summer. The inauguration of the new complex will be announced later, according to the AIT.

Apart from revealing the date for the ceremony, which coincides with the historic meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and is therefore very likely to be overshadowed, the director did not reveal much information about the guests at the upcoming ceremony nor his successor as the AIT director during the conference held in a room crowded with reporters and photographers.

“At some point I am going to hand it over to my successor. When that time comes, I’m very hopeful that Taiwan will welcome him or her with open arms.” said Moy, who is expected to leave his post in June, while Deputy Director Robert W. Forden will also leave his position later in August.

The main office of the AIT, currently situated in Da’an District, has functioned as a de-facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan. With another office in Kaohsiung, the AIT currently has roughly 450 employees and staff.

It took almost a decade for the new AIT complex to be built after the construction began in 2009. Former AIT Director Stephen M. Young was reportedly to have implied that the Marine Security Guard could be deployed at the new complex.

Moy, however, rebutted such saying as “media speculation” and said the security structure of the new building would be similar to that of the current office in Taipei, with a number of Department of State security personnel coordinating with local law enforcement officers.

“It may be fun to speculate and write various kinds of sensational stories, but the bottom line is our policy hasn’t changed,” said Moy, adding the U.S. government would continue to uphold the “one-China policy” on the basis of the Three Communiqué and the Taiwan Relations Act.

“Our efforts to forge a strong cooperative relationship with Taiwan is not a zero-sum game. It doesn’t come with the expense of other partners,” Moy told reporters, carefully not to add fuel to the already sensitive and complex relations between the U.S. and the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The AIT was founded in 1979 and headquartered in Virginia, U.S. according to the Taiwan Relations Act. The TRA was passed by the U.S. legislature one year after President Jimmy Cater terminated the diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China in 1978 and announced to nullify the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty with the Taiwan government 24 years after its implementation.