Tue, May 22, 2018 - Page 1 News List

‘Good friends’ at AIT dedication

JUNE 12:Kin Moy said it would take a month or more to relocate, so people should still go to AIT’s Xinyi office for visa interviews and other business after the ceremony

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

American Institute in Taiwan Director Kin Moy speaks at news conference in Taipei yesterday about the institute’s new home.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

A number of “good friends from Washington” would attend next month’s dedication of the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) new home in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), including AIT Chairman James Moriarty, AIT Director Kin Moy said yesterday.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and other distinguished guests are scheduled to attend the June 12 ceremony, Moy told a news conference in Taipei.

Given that the ceremony will be the first major public event related to Taiwan-US relations since the enactment of the US Taiwan Travel Act on March 16, many in Taiwan have been eager to learn who might be coming from Washington.

However, Moy would not name names.

“There will certainly be good friends of Taiwan coming from Washington to help us celebrate. You will recognize a number of these good friends,” he said.

People should focus on the completion of the compound itself, rather than visiting dignitaries, as it is the first purpose-built facility by a foreign representative office in Taiwan and a tangible symbol of, as well as a historic milestone in, the Taiwan-US friendship, he said.

Construction of the US$242.6 million compound began in 2009, with a scheduled completion date of 2015, but work was temporarily suspended in 2013 over a dispute about back payments between US-based Weston Solutions and its three Taiwanese subcontractors.

Built on a 6.5 hectare plot, the new facility are to house all of AIT’s departments, including the agricultural and commercial sections which are now in separate locations.

However, Moy downplayed speculation that it would have a Marine House, or barracks for a US Marine guard detachment as most US embassies and consulates have.

A US Department of State advertisement for contractors for the compound that ran in the Taipei Times and the China Post in April 2008 had first raise such speculation, as it mentioned a quarter for US Marine guards.

Former AIT director Stephen Young, who served from 2006 to 2009, renewed the speculation with comments last year.

“I want to be very clear and say that at the current AIT, our Xinyi Road office, we have a small number of US personnel who coordinate with our local security staff to provide security for our building and for our staff,” Moy said.

“That situation will continue with the new AIT,” he said, adding that the AIT’s security structure would not change, as Washington’s China policy has not changed.

He also said that it could take a month or two before all AIT personnel relocate to Neihu.

“After June 12, people should still come to our offices in Xinyi for the visa interviews, US passports and other business,” he said.

Moy, who took over as AIT director in June 2015, is expected to leave Taipei this summer, although no date has been announced. Given the slowness with which US President Donald Trump’s administration has filled key diplomatic posts, there has been concern that the appointment of the next AIT director could be delayed.

However, Moy said that there would be a smooth transition.

Additional reporting by staff writer and CNA

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