China Sets ‘Red Line’ for U.S. Ceremony in Taiwan

Meanwhile, Marie Royce, assistant secretary of educational and cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, is now in Taiwan to participate in the dedication ceremony, scheduled for June 12, for the AIT's new office complex in Taipei's Neihu District.

The American Institute in Taiwan, an unofficial non-profit organization, is staffed mostly with US Department of State employees and has handled unofficial ties between Washington and Taipei since 1979, after Washington switched its political leaning from Taipei to Beijing, and has been visited by US Cabinet-level officials previously.

Royce is the wife of pro-Taiwan congressman and House foreign affairs committee chairman Ed Royce.

China strongly opposes official ties between the USA and Taiwan, a self-ruled island that is seen by Beijing as a breakaway province subject to eventual unification, by force if necessary.

The Royce announcement also comes at a time when the U.S. and China are locked in tense trade negotiations, and as Trump heads to Singapore for a landmark nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un. Cabinet-level U.S. officials have previously visited the island unofficially.

The opening of the US$240 million office compound comes amid heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait in recent months.

According to the Straits Times, Royce was chosen deliberately so as not to inculcate a harsh response from Beijing, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory and strongly opposes any direct political relations between Taipei and other nations.

There have also been expressions of support for Taipei from USA officials and lawmakers in the face of growing pressure from Beijing, which has lured away Taiwan's allies and blocked the island's participation in worldwide events. That came after he was presented with a top honour by the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in September, recognising outstanding contributions to the island's development. As SCMP reported earlier - citing unnamed USA officials - the United States is mulling sending warships, including carrier forces, through the Taiwan Strait.

Republican representative Gregg Harper, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Taiwan Caucus, will also attend the opening ceremony.

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