The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday announced that its new Neihu District (內湖) facility would open for business on May 6, and that US military personnel would be assigned to the complex.
US military personnel have been assigned to the Taipei office since August 2005, when a US Army colonel took up the post of liaison affairs officer, the equivalent of a military attache role.
In a video posted on the AIT’s Web site, AIT Director Brent Christensen, AIT Deputy Director Raymond Greene and AIT spokeswoman Amanda Mansour appeared alongside Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) to say that May 6 would be opening day.
Photo: still from a video on the AIT Web site
“The AIT is finally moving,” they say. “We look forward to serving you at 100 Jinhu Road. See you in Neihu.”
After the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported in July last year that US Marines would be posted at the new compound, rumors circulated that the move signaled closer US-Taiwan ties.
China’s Global Times said that stationing US Marines in Taipei would be seen as a “US invasion of China.”
Mansour said security for the new complex would be, as usual, staffed by a small number of US citizens and a large number of Taiwanese.
Since 2005, there have been active-duty members of the four branches of the US military stationed at the AIT, she said.
National Chengchi University Institute of International Relations adjunct research fellow Arthur Ding (丁樹範) said that while it is the first time the AIT has publicly spoken about non-uniformed military officers stationed at the institute, no one should be overly optimistic.
There have been visits to Taiwan by US officials in recent months, but those visits were cultural or academic in nature and did not touch upon sensitive political issues, he said, adding that whether military personnel stationed at the AIT would wear uniforms in the future remains to be seen.
Members of the US Marine Corps Embassy Security Group provide security at designated US diplomatic missions, and Taiwanese media questions about the stationing of US Marines at the Neihu facility have largely focused on marines providing this role.
The US military personnel that have been assigned to the AIT since 2005 wear civilian clothing, not their military uniforms.
Prior to August 2005, the liaison affairs posts were filled by retired US military personnel hired on a contractual basis, then-AIT spokeswoman Nadine Saik told the Associated Press on July 29, 2005.
Additional reporting by CNA and wire agencies
This story has been corrected since it was first published to indicate that there have been active-duty US military personnel assigned to the AIT office since August 2005. The original article, headlined "US Marines to be stationed at AIT compound," incorrectly cited the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokeswoman Amanda Mansour as saying that US Marines would be posted at the new Neihu compound for the protection of everyone working at the facility.
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