Even though the world kept a close eye on the Trump-Kim summit Tuesday morning in Singapore, a low-profile but perhaps more celebratory event was quietly taking place at the same time - the dedication ceremony of the new office complex of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), located in a now still primarily residential area slightly remote from central Taipei City.
The United States has opened a new state-of-the-art facility in Taiwan that serves as Washington's de facto embassy in the self-ruled island that Beijing claims is part of its territory. Moy will then step down next week with no successor named to replace him, adding to the 47 other US diplomatic missions around the world that now don't have ambassadors.
Royce is the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.
That's because despite its innocuous name, the organization has long functioned as the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing considers a renegade Chinese province. The US switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979 but maintains close economic, political and security ties with Taiwan. Together American and Taiwanese representatives, this time including former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), put their chosen objects into a "time capsule" box prepared by the AIT.
"I think Taiwan-U.S. relations have improved in appearance, not in substance", said Chen I-hsin, an emeritus professor of diplomacy in Taiwan.
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Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, attended the dedication ceremony with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.
AIT chairman James Moriarty called the new complex a "milestone" in the US-Taiwan relationship and a "testament to the strong US commitment to Taiwan". However U.S. lawmakers have continued to lobby to support Taiwan, and Washington still sells hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons to Taiwan, despite China's objections.
"We urge the US to honor the commitments it has made to the Chinese side on the Taiwan issue and correct its wrong actions", Geng added Tuesday, "thus avoiding undermining China-US ties and cross-straits peace and stability".
Beijing has also increased the frequency of military exercises in the last few months, including deploying its own aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in the Taiwan Strait.
"The mainland must continue to build up its deterrence against Taiwanese authorities, making them know that the United States can not be their savior", it said in an editorial on the opening of the new office.