The United States unveiled a new $256 million representative office in Taiwan's capital on Tuesday, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington's strategic ties with the democratic, self-ruled island as it faces escalating tensions with China.
Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but remains the island's strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier. It opened the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) to conduct relations between the two sides after severing ties.
In comments certain to rile Beijing, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new complex was a reaffirmation of both sides commitment to a "vital relationship."
Marie Royce, US assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said at a ceremony to mark the unveiling that the complex was a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership.
The sprawling new site occupies 6.5 hectares, including Chinese gardens, in Taipei's Neihu district. AIT's Taipei office has nearly 500 American and local employees, while its Kaohsiung branch has more than 30 staff.
The ceremony was attended by scores of high-ranking Taiwan officials as well as senior business executives, including Morris Chang, the former chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world's biggest contract chip maker.