President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday awarded a special honor to visiting former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in recognition of his contributions to promoting closer ties between Washington and Taipei during his tenure.
Tsai conferred Pompeo, who was the US’ top diplomat under former president Donald Trump, with the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon, and called him a close friend of Taiwan, while expressing her deep gratitude on behalf of Taiwanese.
Tsai praised Pompeo’s groundbreaking measures in lifting US Department of State restrictions on how US officials interact with their Taiwanese counterparts in the absence of official ties, and facilitating high-level visits by US officials.
Photo: AFP / Presidential Office
Pompeo is popular in Taiwan due to his repeated public support for the nation, Tsai said.
Pompeo, wearing a mask bearing US and Taiwanese flags, thanked Tsai and Taiwanese.
Regarding his decision to end restrictions on exchanges between diplomats, Pompeo said it was a “simple, right and proper” decision to make.
Photo: AFP / Presidential Office
It was not partisan or political, but represented “American commitments,” he said, adding that it had been in his country’s best interests, and in the interest of securing and building on the friendship between the nations.
Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pompeo said that Taiwan must not be allowed to go the same way as Ukraine.
“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, focus[ed] leadership from those of us who cherish freedom,” he said.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
“I think these days call for the simple reminder that it is not provocative to say that one demands freedom,” he said, adding that “those who desire to destroy freedom, to change human lives” would see silence as “their opportunity.”
“I am confident that you will not permit that to happen on your watch, and I can assure you that the American people stand with you in that very effort,” Pompeo told Tsai.
Pompeo arrived late on Wednesday, accompanied by his wife, Susan Pompeo; his former adviser on China policy, Miles Yu (余茂春); and nine other people.
During his four-day trip, which concludes tomorrow, Pompeo and his wife are to meet with senior government officials and businesspeople before he gives a speech organized by the government-affiliated Prospect Foundation today.
China sanctioned Pompeo and 27 other top Trump-era officials as US President Joe Biden took office in January last year.
China’s People’s Daily yesterday called Pompeo an “extremely notorious” anti-China politician who “took pride in lying and deceit” while in office.
Additional reporting by Reuters and AFP
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