Taiwanese leader praised the US House Speaker for her stalwart support of the island
Amid fierce protests from Beijing, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reiterated Washington’s commitment, solidarity and determination to protect democracy in Taiwan, during a meeting with the island’s leader Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Wednesday.
“The speaker’s courage and actions are deeply inspiring and touching,” Tsai said, according to the South China Morning Post, as she presented Pelosi with one of the highest-rank civilian awards – the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon – for her firm stance in “safeguarding freedom, democracy and human rights.”
Accepting the award, Pelosi said that Washington “will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan,” while praising Tsai as a role-model “woman president in one of the freest societies in the world.”
In turn, Tsai vowed to remain a reliable US partner and to “firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy at the same time.”
The ceremony took place shortly after Pelosi held a closed-door meeting with deputy speaker Tsai Chi-chang and other members of Taiwan’s parliament earlier on Wednesday.
The visit of the third highest-ranking figure in the US government to the island, which Beijing considers to be inalienable part of China’s territory, prompted a harsh reaction from the mainland.
After Pelosi landed on Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the trip would have a “severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations” and “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The ministry also summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to lodge an official protest, warning that Washington “shall pay the price.”
In the meantime, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced a series of military exercises and live-fire drills in six large maritime areas and their air space around Taiwan.
Pelosi is the first speaker of the US House or Representatives to visit Taiwan in over two decades. Taiwan, which officially calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), has been self-ruled since the 1940s but has never officially declared independence from Beijing.