The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) serves as the de facto embassy of the United States in the Republic of China on Taiwan. The AIT exists because the United States, in maintaining diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and acknowledging its view of the One-China policy, may not officially recognize the Republic of China and hence cannot open an actual embassy there.
It was created in 1979 by the Taiwan Relations Act after severing ties with the ROC in 1978. Although it is a nominally private organization, it is authorized to perform functions normally carried on by an embassy, including issuing visas and passports. The staff consists nominally of private citizens, but these are officials of the United States Department of State who are technically on leave, although they continue to collect seniority. The funding for the AIT comes exclusively from the United States government.
The headquarters of the AIT is in Washington, D.C. and the AIT is headed by a chairman who resides there. The AIT also has an office in Taipei and a branch in Kaohsiung. The Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute on Taiwan serves the functions normally associated with an ambassador. The Taipei office Director is Douglas H. Paal , and the acting Chairman of the AIT is William Brown.
The ROC is similarly represented in the U.S. by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.
List of Chairmen
- David Dean 1979 - 1986
- David N. Laux 1986 - 1990
- Natale H. Bellocchi 1990 - 1995
- James C. Wood, Jr. 1996 - 1997
- Richard Bush 1997 - 2002
Therese Shaheen 2002 - 2004