Taiwan is not a pawn in Trump’s talks with China, says US envoy

Washington’s ‘ambassador’ stresses US support for island, but dismisses suggestion that US Marines would be sent to guard mission

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 8:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 10:26pm

Washington’s de facto ambassador to Taiwan has dismissed suggestions that US Marines would be posted at the mission’s new offices – a move that would have risked Beijing’s anger.

Kin Moy, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Washington’s de facto consulate, also said Taiwan is not a disposable pawn in what some see as President Donald Trump’s larger plan for winning concessions from Beijing in areas of military and economic disagreements.

There have been US military attaches assigned to AIT’s Taipei office since 2005, but they do not wear their uniforms and keep a low profile.

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But former AIT director Stephen Young said last year that US Marines would be posted at the new AIT compound.

Moy stressed Monday that there was already a small number of US personnel at the current AIT offices on Xinyi road, who coordinate with Taiwanese security staff to provide security for the building and its staff, Central News Agency reported.

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

Beijing considers the island a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Moy said the US government was taking action on many kinds of cooperative issues and they do not come at the expense of other partners.

“One of the areas that gives me the greatest satisfaction, and what we are doing here at AIT, is knowing that our effort to forge a strong cooperative relationship with Taiwan is not a zero-sum game,” Moy said during a press conference in Taipei.

Citing the example of Global Entry, Moy said the initiative helps both people in Taiwan and United States. Global Entry is a US programme that allows expedited immigration and customs clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travellers upon arrival in the United States.

In November last year, Taiwan became the third location in East Asia and the 12th worldwide whose passport holders are eligible for Global Entry.

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Moy was speaking at a press conference he called to announce that the dedication ceremony of the AIT’s new office complex in Neihu, eastern Taipei, would be held on June 12.

Saying that the completion of the compound will mark “a historic milestone in the US-Taiwan relationship,” Moy emphasised that the new facility is a tangible symbol of the friendship between the two.

Moy would not say who would attend the ceremony on behalf of Trump, saying only that some familiar friends of Taiwan will fly to Taipei to celebrate the special occasion, CNA reported.

Moy said there are so many ways to measure a relationship, but ultimately, the measure of the strength of a relationship is “who you trust, who you turn to when you need support tackling tough challenges,” and “who you think of as your friend and partner.”

“For the United States, Taiwan is all of these things – a vital and reliable partner with the will and the ability to play a positive role in meeting regional and global challenges,” he said.

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Washington’s increasing support for Taiwan has irked Beijing.

In addition to supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations, Moy said the US government strongly supports a healthy dialogue between Taiwan and mainland China that leads to stability and will continue to encourage the two sides to do so.

However, Moy reiterated that Washington is not changing its “one-China” policy set forth in the three US-China joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.