US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen Wednesday after visiting the island nation's legislature amid persistent warnings by Chinese officials.
Tsai conferred Taiwan’s civilian award the Order of the Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon on Pelosi
Pelosi said in a Twitter post it was her “great and humble privilege to accept on behalf of the Congress” the award, calling it “a symbol of America’s strong and enduring friendship with Taiwan.”
Tsai said Pelosi was Taiwan’s “true friend” and thanked the speaker’s delegation for working to improve Taiwan-US relations.
Over the last 20 years, said Tsai, Pelosi has kept paying “attention to Taiwan’s democratic development and also demonstrated support for Taiwan's international participation.”
“Aggressions against democratic Taiwan would have a tremendous impact on the security of the entire Indo-Pacific,” she noted.
Referring to Russia’s war on Ukraine, she said it made Taiwan’s situation “become the focus of the world.”
“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down and will continue to hold the line of democracy,” Tsai said.
Taiwanese proved it is 'possible to build a peaceful future'
In her remarks, Pelosi pointed to the US Congress’ “bipartisan support for Taiwan.”
The two avoided directly mentioning China.
Pelosi, however, said relations between the US and Taiwan were based on the Taiwan Relations Act.
“Forty-three years ago, with the Taiwan Relations Act, America made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan. And on this strong foundation, we have built a thriving partnership, grounded in our shared values of self-government and self-determination, focused on our mutual security interests in the region and across the world, committed to the economic ties that power prosperity for all of our people,” she said.
Pelosi called Taiwan “an island of resilience in the world.”
“The people of Taiwan have proven to the world that – with hope, courage and determination – it is possible to build a peaceful and prosperous future, even in terms of the challenges you face,” the House speaker said.
“And now more than ever, American solidarity with Taiwan is crucial. And that is the message we are bringing here today,” she told the meeting with Tsai.
Earlier Wednesday, Pelosi, who is leading a congressional delegation on a controversial tour to Asia, was received by the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Yuan, Tsai Chi-chang.
The speaker of the legislature, You Si-kun, was not present due to his COVID-19 isolation. In a Facebook post, he hailed the "rock solid" commitment of the US to Taiwan.
Pelosi is also expected to meet with representatives of the four political parties in Taiwan during her visit.
She spoke to the Taiwanese parliament about the importance of cooperation between Taiwan and the US in the chip industry.
The Biden administration strongly defended Pelosi's visit to Taiwan amid China's ongoing fiery response, saying the trip is consistent with longstanding US policy and is "no reason" for Beijing to further escalate tensions.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Chinese response thus far has been "unfortunately right in line with what we had anticipated," noting Washington expects China to be preparing to "react over a longer-term horizon."
In protest of the visit, China summoned the US ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns. China’s Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng told Burns that "China will take necessary and resolute countermeasures, and we mean what we say."
China meanwhile announced that it will halt natural sand exports to Taiwan from Wednesday in addition to several other restrictions such as the suspension of imports of certain food products.
Pelosi, the first speaker of the US House of Representatives to visit Taiwan in 25 years, landed in Taipei on Tuesday night.
In 1997, Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit the self-ruled island, which has maintained its independence since 1949.
Soon after Pelosi landed in Taiwan, the Chinese military announced that it will hold military drills around the self-ruled island, home to over 24 million people. China views Taiwan as a "breakaway province" and has vowed to reunify it with the mainland, including by force if necessary.