‘Dedication ceremony’ for new AIT office to be held next month

The new AIT office will be inaugurated in June. Kin Moy (梅健華, right), director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) invited President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, left) to visit the building. (Photo courtesy of CNA, 2018.5.21)

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) A “dedication ceremony” for the new compound of the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan will be held on June 12 and be attended by “good friends of Taiwan” from Washington as a “tangible symbol of U.S.-Taiwan friendship,” the top U.S. envoy to Taiwan announced Monday.

Staff, however, will not move into the new building just yet, Kin Moy (梅健華), director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in the absence of diplomatic ties, told a press event.

It could take a month or two before the AIT office fully relocates from its current Xinyi compound to Neihu.

“After June 12, people should still come to our offices in Xinyi for the visa interviews, U.S. passports, and other businesses,” he said.

According to Moy, the ceremony will be attended by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), AIT Chairman James Moriarty, himself, and other distinguished guests to mark a “historic milestone in U.S.-Taiwan relations.”

Photo courtesy of CNA, 2018.5.21

Asked who will attend the event on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, Moy would not give names, saying only that some familiar friends of Taiwan will fly to Taipei to celebrate the special occasion.

“There will certainly be good friends of Taiwan coming from Washington to help us celebrate. You’ll recognize a number of these good friends. But definitely the focus should be on the milestone of opening the building,” he told reporters.

To meet growing demand, AIT rented a site in Neihu from Taipei City Government for 99 years in 2004. AIT’s new office compound is being built on a 6.5-hectare hillside site within walking distance of the Neihu stop on Taipei MRT’s Brown Line.

The compound includes an office building of approximately 14,000 square meters, a parking area and ancillary structures. It was originally scheduled to be completed in 2015 but has suffered delays.

During his address, the AIT chief said the complex in Neihu is modern, environmentally friendly, and the first purpose-built facility by a foreign representative office in Taiwan.

“But it is more than just a new building. It is a tangible symbol of U.S.-Taiwan friendship,” he said.

Moy said the new building has taken some time to build and he assured it has a very strong foundation, just like the U.S.-Taiwan friendship. “And it is built to last through the 21st century and beyond, just like the U.S.-Taiwan relationship,” he added.

Moy said for the United States, Taiwan is a vital and reliable partner with the will and ability to play a positive role in meeting regional and global challenges.

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

Meanwhile, Moy did not directly answer the question when asked to confirm former AIT Director Stephen Young’s previous statement, when he said last year that U.S. Marines will be posted at the new AIT compound.

He stressed that at the current AIT offices on Xinyi road, there is already a small number of U.S. personnel who coordinate with Taiwanese security staff to provide security for the building and its staff.

“That situation will continue with the new AIT,” he said, adding that the bottom line is U.S. policy toward Taiwan has not changed.

“Our one China policy is set forth in the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. We are not changing and our security structure will not change,” he noted.

Moy, the first Chinese-American to hold the post as AIT head, has served in the position since June 2015. AIT directors usually serve three years, meaning he is likely to leave the post this summer.

Asked to comment, Moy did not give a date for his possible departure, saying that he serves at the pleasure of the American people and the U.S. government.

He also would not confirm if his successor has been decided. No matter who takes over his post in Taipei, the AIT head said he believes he or she will be warmly welcomed by the Taiwanese people.

“Just like when I arrived here three years ago, there was really a smooth continuity between my predecessor’s departure and my arrival. I have every confidence that that would be replicated, that there will be a smooth transition and that there won’t be any interruption that everyone here will notice,” he noted

(By Joseph Yeh)