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New AIT complex shows U.S.-Taiwan friendship: U.S. senators

2018/06/12 14:11:52

Washington, June 11 (CNA) Two prominent U.S. senators on Monday sent congratulatory messages for the dedication of the new complex of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), saying the facility shows the strong friendship between the United States and Taiwan.

Speaking in a Senate floor proceeding, Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado said the dedication of the "state of the art" AIT compound in Taipei on Tuesday came at a very important moment to demonstrate U.S. support for the people in Taiwan.

"The new AIT facility will cultivate the relationship between the United States and Taiwan and further demonstrate the United States' commitment to bolstering friendship and the commercial and defense partnership with Taiwan," Gardner said.

Gardner, chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Taiwan in May and met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to demonstrate the U.S.'s firm support for Taiwan.

While Taiwan has served as an important contributor to peace and security around the world, it is faced with unrelenting pressure from China to "deprive Taiwan of international legitimacy and to undermine the fragile status quo between Beijing and Taipei" since Tsai's election in 2016, Gardner said.

Taiwan lost two allies -- the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso -- in May alone and was once again shut out of the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly in the same month due to pressure from Beijing, Gardner said.

"It is time for the United States to aggressively push back against Beijing's efforts to undermine a free Taiwan," Gardner said.

Echoing the Colorado senator, Marco Rubio, another Republican from Florida, said on the same occasion that the dedication of the new AIT facility came at a critical time, when "both the United States and Taiwan face major challenges that are posed by the Communist Party of China which governs that country."

"Beijing has increased its efforts to undermine and erode U.S. interests, even as it moves to isolate Taiwan on the international stage," Rubio said.

The senator reminded his colleagues of China's bullying of U.S. companies such as Marriott Hotels, American Airlines and United Airlines when it comes to Taiwan or other topics deemed too sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party.

"They are intimidating American businesses in the United States because of Taiwan and other issues which the Communist Party finds unacceptable," Rubio said.

"But China must not be allowed to continue to interfere any further in Taiwan's relations or standing with the rest of the world."

Rubio called for the U.S. executive branch to send high-level officials to Taiwan, including Cabinet-level officials, to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts after the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Travel Act and President Donald Trump signed it into law earlier this year.

Washington sent Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce to Taiwan for the dedication ceremony for the new AIT facility on Tuesday.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Frances Huang)