U.S. elevating relations with Taiwan: lawmaker
Taipei, April 3 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is indicating the elevation of U.S.-Taiwan relations by admitting for the first time that active Marine personnel have been posted at its Taipei office since 2005, Taiwan's lawmaker said Wednesday.
Ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), chair of the Foreign and Defense Committee in the Legislative Yuan, told reporters that AIT is sending a message that the United States is enhancing its relations with Taiwan and views it as a "country ally."
The U.S. is gradually "normalizing" its interactions with Taiwan, and this is in line with the statement of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a House hearing last week, Wang said, describing this as a positive development.
Earlier Wednesday, AIT spokesperson Amanda Mansour confirmed to CNA that security personnel posted to the AIT compound include U.S. Marines.
"Since 2005, U.S. government personnel detailed to AIT have included active duty military, including service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines," Mansour said.
AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, will relocate to a new location in Neihu District, Taipei, on May 6 and its security protocols will remain the same.
In the past, Washington has declined to categorically confirm or deny whether Marines are stationed at AIT, Wang said, adding that the U.S. government does not usually link security and diplomatic issues.
By announcing there are active military personnel at AIT, the U.S. is sending a clear signal to the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Wang said, hoping Beijing will pragmatically face the fact of the Republic of China's existence in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, opposition Kuomintang Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that AIT has always kept a low profile in the past so its public statement on Wednesday has more strategic than military significance.
New Power Party lawmaker Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said he is pleased to see the increasing normalization of U.S.-Taiwan relations.
Given the close relations between the two, Washington should be allowed to determine its own security arrangements, he added.
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