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AIT declines to confirm report on posting of U.S. Marines

2018/06/30 14:27:02

CNA file photo

Taipei, June 30 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Saturday would not confirm a report that the U.S. State Department has requested that U.S. Marines be posted at the AIT's new complex in Taipei's Neihu District.

"As is the practice at our current location, a small number of American personnel detailed to AIT along with a larger number of locally-hired employees will provide security for the new office building in cooperation with the local authorities," an unnamed AIT official said in a text message to CNA.

According to a CNN report on Friday, which cited two unnamed U.S. officials, the request for a Marine security guard was received several weeks ago, but it has not been formally approved and coordination about its deployment is ongoing between the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and the Marines.

When asked about the matter at a news conference that same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) reiterated that the "one China principle" is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations and that Washington should abide by its "one China" pledge and refrain from developing any official ties or having military exchanges with Taiwan.

The AIT office is currently located in Taipei's Xinyi District and is expected to officially relocate to the new facility in the fall of 2018.

A de facto embassy in nature, the AIT is a private entity established in 1979 to manage unofficial U.S. relations with Taiwan following the severance of diplomatic ties when Washington established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China instead.

Having U.S. Marines posted at the new AIT compound in Taipei would likely be seen here as an indication of warmer relations between the United States and Taiwan.

Commenting on the issue, Lin Ying-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at National Chung Cheng University's Institute of Strategic and International Affairs, said such a move would carry "more political than military significance."

He noted that U.S. Marines are usually posted only at America's official agencies overseas. If they are eventually stationed at the new AIT complex, that can be seen as a show of the importance attached by the United States to Taiwan and a political signal to China, he added.

(By Elaine Hou, Matt Yu and Y.F. Low)
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