The “Other” Most Important Event in Asia
American cable news coverage will be dominated by one topic today – President Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un. Caught up in the hype of the summitry, broadcasters are likely to miss a nearby event that could prove equally important in the long term: the opening of the American Institute in Taiwan’s new facility in Taipei.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is the United States’ de facto embassy in Taiwan. AIT is staffed by members of the Foreign Service and has handled diplomatic and economic relations in Taiwan since the Carter administration ended formal diplomatic recognition of the Republic of China in favor of the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland.
The new AIT facility is world-class, an embassy in all but name, and for good reason—the United States’ relationship with Taiwan is one of the most important we have. A country of only 23 million people, Taiwan punches well above its weight as a U.S. partner.
Taiwan is a responsible international player in sea lanes that are threatened by the PRC’s militarization, the United States’ 5th-largest trading partner in Asia and eleventh-largest overall, and a champion of democracy and human rights in a region far too short on both.
It will take time before the true value of the North Korean summit is certain. But the U.S.-Taiwan relationship—symbolized by the new AIT facility that opens today—is built to last, and the American people shouldn’t miss this important development.