United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan's Taipei on Wednesday, 3 August, shortly after meeting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Ing-wen had awarded Pelosi with the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon (Taiwan's highest civilian order), and draped a blue sash over the US house speaker.
The president claimed it “represented their gratitude to Pelosi and the wish to continue progressing US-Taiwan relations through more cooperation.”
Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday night, defying a string of increasingly stark warnings and threats from China.
After the award, Ing-wen said in a tweet, "A pleasure to meet with @SpeakerPelosi & recognise her longstanding support for #Taiwan. Your visit not only reflects strong #US congressional support for bilateral ties – it also sends a message to the world that democracies stand together in the face of common challenges. (sic)"
Second in line to the presidency, Pelosi is the highest-elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
Speaking on Pelosi's visit, Tsai Ing-wen said that US Speaker Pelosi is "truly one of Taiwan's most devoted friends. We are grateful to you to make this visit to Taiwan to showcase the US Congress' staunch support for Taiwan."
She added, "Aggressions against democratic Taiwan would have a tremendous impact on the security of the entire Indo-Pacific...Facing deliberately heightened military threats Taiwan will not back down."
Meanwhile, during a meeting with Tsai Chi-chang, the deputy speaker of Taiwan's Parliament, Pelosi had said, "We come in friendship to Taiwan, we come in peace to the region," AFP reported.
The Order of Propitious Clouds
The Order of Propitious Clouds can be awarded to both citizens and foreigners for their contributions to the country.
Only 21 people have been given the honour since it was established in 1941, The Guardian reported.
The award has also been bestowed to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was a member of the US House of Representatives from Florida’s 27th district, and Jesse Helms, who was a US senator from North Carolina.
‘Taiwan Is a Flourishing Democracy’: US Speaker Pelosi
Speaking during her meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi said, "America has made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan. On this strong foundation, we have a thriving partnership grounded in self-government and self-determination focused on mutual security in the region and world committed to economic prosperity."
She added that Taiwan is a "flourishing democracy" and the country "has proven to world that hope, courage and determination can build peaceful and prosperous future despite challenges it faces."
"Now, more than ever, America's solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, that's the message we bring in today," she added.
She further emphasised that the world faces a choice today "between democracy and autocracy."
'Washington Shall Pay the Price’: China
Following the touchdown of Pelosi’s military aircraft, US Ambassador Nicholas Burns was summoned by the Chinese Foreign Ministry late on Tuesday and received a warning that the US "shall pay the price."
China's Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng was quoted as saying, "The move is extremely egregious in nature and the consequences are extremely serious," state news agency Xinhua reported.
Meanwhile, Pelosi told the Taiwanese Parliament that the US chip bill would offer a good opportunity for US-Taiwan cooperation in the chip industry.
Pelosi also stressed that the US wants to increase parliamentary exchanges with Taiwan.
Additionally, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Wednesday that those who offend Beijing will be punished.
"This is a complete farce. The United States is violating China's sovereignty under the guise of so-called 'democracy'... those who offend China will be punished," Wang said after an ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Talking about the Chinese military exercises that occurred in the sea, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing that they "are a necessary and just measure to resolutely protect national sovereignty."
(With inputs from AFP and The Guardian.)