TAIPEI – An assistant US secretary of state will attend the unveiling of a massive new complex for Washington’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, a visit less likely to unnerve Beijing which was concerned that higher-level American officials may attend.
There was speculation that US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton may attend the unveiling ceremony at the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) on June 12, which would have made him one of the most senior American officials to visit Taiwan since 1979 and likely drawn China’s ire.
Local media also reported last week that a visit by a member of Trump’s cabinet—secretary of health and human services Alex Azar—was a possibility.
But the AIT said in a statement Sunday that Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, will visit Taiwan June 10-14 and attend the ceremony.
Washington gave up official diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 to recognize Beijing, but it remains the island’s most powerful ally and top arms supplier.
Taiwan-US relations have since been handled delicately and in a low-key manner through the AIT to avoid riling China—which sees the island as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary.