New AIT complex a symbol of strength of U.S.-Taiwan ties: Royce

Taipei, June 12 (CNA) The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) office in Neihu is a symbol of the strength of bilateral ties between the United States and Taiwan, a visiting U.S. assistant secretary of state said Tuesday at a dedication ceremony for the new facility.

Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, declared that the 14,934-square-meter five-story complex represents much more than steel, glass and concrete.

"The new office complex is a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership in the 21st century," she said.

Royce said she was on her first overseas mission since assuming her post in March to celebrate this "extraordinary friendship."

"We may be separated by a great ocean, but our shared convictions, values, and trust form a strong foundation for cooperation across a range of issues," she said, citing bilateral trade volume and two-way-visitors.

"AIT's new home is both a tangible symbol that reflects the strength of our ties, and a state-of-the-art facility that will make possible even greater cooperation for years to come," she added.

In her address, President Tsai Ing-wen (???) praised the new building as "a new chapter in a story that has been decades in the making."

The story began with the first U.S. Consulate-General on Taipei's Zhongshan North Road, to the old U.S. embassy building in Beitou, according to the president.

It then extended from the current AIT Xinyi compound, the former site of the U.S. Military Advisory Group, to the new state-of-the-art building in Neihu, she said.

Calling the ceremony a celebration of Taiwan-U.S. relations over the past decades, Tsai said the new building is an "affirmation of our shared values, interests, and commitment to this vital partnership."

Aside from Tsai and Royce, Overseas Buildings Office Principal Deputy Director William Moser, AIT Chairman James Moriarty, and AIT Director Kin Moy all delivered remarks at the dedication ceremony.

The event was also attended by former President Ma Ying-jeou (???).

In his remarks, Moriarty especially pointed out the presence of Ma, saying that the construction of the Neihu complex began under Ma from one political party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and has been completed under President Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party.

This indicates the support throughout Taiwanese society across party lines for close ties with the U.S., he said.

According to AIT, the building was designed by Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners of Santa Monica, California to be an expression of the values of American democracy and a demonstration of respect for Taiwan.

The AIT is scheduled to officially relocate to the new facility in the fall of 2018. AIT said people in Taiwan are advised to still visit AIT's office on Xinyi Road for their visa interviews, U.S. passports, and other business, until further notice.

To meet growing demand, AIT rented a site in Neihu from the Taipei City government for 99 years in 2004. AIT's new office compound is being built on a 6.5-hectare hillside site within walking distance of the Neihu stop on Taipei MRT's Brown Line.

The compound includes an office building, a parking area and ancillary structures. It was originally scheduled to be completed in 2015 but has suffered delays.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel