Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has honored former U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo with a special award in recognition of his efforts to strengthen relations between Washington and Taipei during his tenure under the Trump administration.
Pompeo, who served as secretary of state from April 2018 to January 2021, is in Taiwan for a four-day visit involving meetings with public officials and business leaders. He arrived on Wednesday night, trailing a Biden-appointed delegation that assured the island — which he called a “great nation” to start his visit — of Washington’s commitments as world democracies come under threat.
Tsai decorated Pompeo with the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon. In her remarks, she praised Pompeo’s work in removing contact restrictions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials, thereby normalizing arms sales and facilitating mutual visits.
“A visit from such a good friend as Secretary Pompeo attests to the strong Taiwan-U.S. friendship. Mr. Pompeo, you are very well known here,” Tsai said. “News of your visit generated broad attention and discussion. We hope you will visit again soon and continue working with us to strengthen Taiwan-U.S. relations.”
A warm welcome to former US Secretary of State @MikePompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo. I look forward to exchanging views on how #Taiwan & the #US can further strengthen our partnership going forward. pic.twitter.com/1EQC7YqxbB
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) March 2, 2022
While the U.S. and Taiwan have no formal diplomatic ties, Washington has committed to aid the island through the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. Under this law, the U.S. will “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character” and “resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.”
Tsai said Pompeo helped pave the way for Taiwan and the U.S. to establish dialogue in multiple fields, such as regional democratic governance, economic affairs, education and public health. The Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, whose significant talks resumed last year, is expected to open doors for high-level trade engagement.
Pompeo declared that it was “simple and right and proper” to eliminate the contact restrictions. Regarding the award, he thanked Tsai and the citizens of Taiwan, whom he described as “noble,” “caring,” “loving” and “freedom-demanding” people.
“I am so thrilled to see what I hoped the people here in Taiwan will see, which is that these aren’t partisan or political, but these are American commitments, that are in our best interests, our American tradition, and in the deep interest of securing and building on the relationship between the United States and Taiwan,” Pompeo was quoted as saying.
Thank you, Secretary @MikePompeo, for your commitment to upholding our nation’s security & strengthening #Taiwan–#US ties. This honour is a symbol of #Taiwan’s gratitude for your contributions to our partnership. pic.twitter.com/aF08mNRuhh
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) March 3, 2022
The former official also seemingly referred to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine to highlight the importance of fighting for freedom. “If any of us were mistaken or complacent about the risk to that freedom, I think we need only watch what’s taking place in Europe today to see that this continues to demand deep, concerted, focused leadership from those of us who cherish freedom,” he said.
Pompeo ended his remarks by conveying confidence in Tsai’s resolve to deter forces that undermine democracy.
“President Tsai, I’m confident you will not permit that to happen on your watch. I can assure you that the American people stand with you in that very effort,” he said.
China has been ramping up its push to send warplanes to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) since October 2021. Last Thursday, as Russian troops breached Ukraine, nine Chinese sorties — eight Shenyang J-16 fighter jets and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft — were detected in the zone.
In one of his final acts as Washington’s top diplomat, Pompeo declared that China has committed genocide and other crimes against Uyghurs and other minorities in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. He described the Chinese government’s actions as “morally repugnant.”
In response to Pompeo’s visit, Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, claimed it to be “futile,” echoing his earlier comment on the Biden-appointed delegation.
“This act of Mike Pompeo is simply shameless and futile,” Wang said.
Pompeo, who is visiting Taiwan for the first time, is expected to deliver a speech on Friday. He reportedly leaves on Saturday.
Featured Image via President Tsai Ing-wen