AIT to move into new Neihu compound by year-end

2018/10/31 16:14:26 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan is expected to officially move into its new Neihu compound before the end of this year, new AIT Taipei director Brent Christensen said Wednesday.

"We are still waiting for final certification but we expect to begin our move by the end of this year," he said at his first press conference in Taipei as the AIT director.

The move would appear to be behind schedule after Christensen's predecessor Kin Moy said in June he expected the move to take place in September.

Christensen took the post at AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, this August.

To meet growing demand, AIT rented a site in Neihu from the Taipei City government for 99 years in 2004. The 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.

A dedication ceremony was held June 12 to unveil the nearly completed 14,934-square-meter, five-story complex. The AIT is now still operating out of its office on Xinyi Rd. that has been in use for nearly 40 years.

Christensen said AIT staff are very excited about the upcoming move to the new facility, which will be a "new base of operations for us to build upon 40 years of success under the Taiwan Relations Act."

"And I look forward to next 40 years and beyond as we build stronger U.S.-Taiwan relations," he said.

Christensen said that with the passage by Congress earlier this year of the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA) that promotes high-level two-way official travel, the AIT is looking forward to inviting senior U.S. officials to Taiwan next year for the 40th anniversary of the founding of the AIT.

The only American Cabinet-level official to visit Taiwan since 2000 was then EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in 2014, a pattern Taiwan hopes will change after passage of the TTA.

But Christensen said the U.S. has for decades maintained robust unofficial contacts with Taiwan, including through reciprocal visits by high level U.S. government and Taiwan representatives, even before the TTA's passage.

"We anticipate that will continue to be the case," he added.

Christensen, who has nearly 30 years of diplomatic experience and previously served as AIT deputy director from 2012 to 2015, replaced his predecessor Kin Moy.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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