Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen presented U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with an award during a ceremony at the presidential office on Wednesday, Aug. 3.
Pelosi had touched down in Taiwan the night before (Aug. 2) at around 10:45pm (Singapore time), and carried on with her schedule in Taiwan, despite a cacophony of threats from China.
China announces live-dire drills
Shortly after she landed in the self-ruled island that the Chinese Communist Party views as its territory, despite having not controlled it once in the past, China announced that it will be holding six live-fire military drills in the waters around Taiwan over four days from Aug. 4 to 7.
Calling Pelosi's act of visiting Taiwan a "deliberate provocation" despite China's repeated warnings, China said the move would invite "serious consequences".
Taiwan's National Defense Ministry said the drills are a "unilateral effort to undermine peace and stability" and threaten Taiwan's major ports and metropolitan areas, Focus Taiwan reported.
Nathan Ruser, a researcher with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, called the drills "the most provocative moves by China in decades", and that they are considered state aggression according to the United Nations.
The PLA is planning to conduct live-fire military exercises within the sovereign territorial waters of Taiwan (blue line). These are the most provocative moves by China in decades & would qualify for the UN definition of state aggression.— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) August 2, 2022
Unambiguously escalatory & in the wrong. https://t.co/9trC6tLBct pic.twitter.com/jNVDx4jRUV
Under international law, any use of armed force not justified by defensive necessity, international authority, or consent of the state on the receiving end, constitutes as aggression.
Saying that the award represents their "treasured friendship", Tsai presented the "Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon" to Pelosi, who accepted it on behalf of the U.S. Congress, The Washington Post reported.
The "Order of Propitious Clouds" is awarded to civil servants, non-civil servants and foreigners who have contributed to Taiwan.
Previously, Tsai had personally conferred the medal to prominent figures like Morris Chang, the founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC).
Pledged to safeguard Taiwan's safety
In her remarks, Tsai thanked Pelosi for visiting Taiwan during "this critical moment", and for her "unwavering support for Taiwan's international participation", as well as the U.S.' "consistent policy in supporting Taiwan's defence".
Without mentioning China, Tsai also reiterated that Taiwan will not back down in the face of "deliberately heightened military threats".
"We will firmly uphold our nation's sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defence for democracy," she said, adding that Taiwan will continue to cooperate with all democracies around the world to safeguard democratic values.
Tsai also brought up Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which she said had made the security of Taiwan "another focus of worldwide attention".
"Aggression against democratic Taiwan will have a tremendous impact on the security of the Indo-Pacific," she warned.
Tsai further said that Taiwan will "do whatever it takes to strengthen its self-defence capabilities", and that they are committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. This is because Taiwan aims to be "a stabilising force" in a free and open Indo-Pacific, and also to ensure the stable development of global trade and supply chains.
Reiterated U.S. commitment to Taiwan
Speaking after Tsai, Pelosi said she made the trip to Taiwan to convey the message that the U.S. had made a bedrock promise to "always stand with Taiwan" through the Taiwan Relations Act 43 years ago.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. is obliged to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
American solidarity with Taiwan is "crucial" now more than ever, Pelosi continued, adding that the U.S. will not abandon its commitment to Taiwan.
She added that the story of Taiwan is "an inspiration to all freedom-loving people in the U.S. and around the world", and that Taiwan has been an island of "resilience".
The Taiwanese people have proven to the world that even in the face of challenges, with "hope, courage and determination", it's possible to build a peaceful and prosperous future, she said.
Top image via Taiwan Presidential Office