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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan said Saturday it is changing the name of its de-facto embassy in the U.S. amid the strongest relations between the sides in decades.
The foreign ministry tweeted that the Coordination Council for North American Affairs was being renamed the Taiwan Council for U.S. Affairs. The addition of the word Taiwan will likely be seen as highly significant, since it appears to drop the pretense that the council is non-diplomatic or political in nature.
While the U.S. severed formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 in favor of Beijing, the sides retain close unofficial relations that have grown ever-closer in recent years, including stepped-up military-to-military contacts.
"Times, they are a-changin," read the tweet signed by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. "Really got to love the new name!"
The unofficial U.S. embassy in Taipei, the American Institute in Taiwan, recently moved into a substantially larger, purpose-built complex in a suburb of the capital. The U.S. is also considering new arms deals for Taiwan, including fighter jets and tanks.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, objects to all diplomatic and military contacts between Taipei and Washington and has boosted its military threat against the island, with President Xi Jinping saying this year that Beijing would not rule out using force.
That comes on top of growing Chinese pressure to isolate Taiwan internationally and inflict economic pain to force independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen to agree to Beijing's contention that Taiwan is a part of China.
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