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International relations

AIT chief says Taiwan not a pawn in US-China battles

TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Taiwan is not a disposable pawn in what some see U.S. President Donald Trump's larger plan for winning concessions from China in areas of military and economic disagreements, Washington's de facto ambassador to Taiwan said Monday.

Kin Moy, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington's de facto consulate in lieu of formal diplomatic ties, said the U.S. government is 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 U.S. program that allows expedited immigration and customs clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers 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.

Moy made the remarks in a question-and-answer session of a press conference he called on Monday to announce that the dedication ceremony of the AIT's new office complex in Neihu, eastern Taipei, will be held on June 12.

Saying the completion of the compound will mark "a historic milestone in the U.S.-Taiwan relationship," Moy emphasized that the new facility is a tangible symbol of the U.S.-Taiwan friendship.

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.

Washington's increasing support for Taiwan has irked China, which considers the island a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

In addition to supporting Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, Moy said the U.S. government strongly supports a healthy dialogue between Taiwan and 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 U.S.-Sino joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.

He also emphasized that the AIT's security structure will not change, dismissing media speculation that U.S. Marines will be posted at the new AIT compound.

There have been U.S. 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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