The United States unveiled a new $256 million representative office in Taiwan’s capital on Tuesday, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington’s strategic ties with the democratic, self-ruled island as it faces escalating tensions with China.

Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but remains the island’s strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier. It opened the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) to conduct relations between the two sides after severing ties.

In comments certain to rile Beijing, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new complex was a reaffirmation of both sides commitment to a “vital relationship.”

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