Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received a presidential honor from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday, March 3, for his contribution to boosting relations with the island. However, the Chinese government criticized his record as “despicable.”

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen appreciated Pompeo for his long-term support for the island when they met at the presidential office in Taipei.

She stated that “A visit from such a good friend as Secretary Pompeo attests to the strong Taiwan-U.S. friendship.”

President Tsai bestowed on Mike Pompeo the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, one of Taiwan’s top honors. The latest recipient of this honor is the former Secretary of Defense of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld.

The former Secretary of State, wearing a mask with the American and Taiwanese flags emblazoned on it, said he was proud of what he did while in office to normalize relations with Taiwan, including sending U.S. officials to the island.

Pompeo said, “It is not provocative to say that one demands freedom. Indeed to walk away from these things demonstrates the absence of resolve.”

When asked about Pompeo’s trip, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said on a press conference on March 3, “This act of Mike Pompeo is simply shameless and futile”.

A commentary published earlier on Thursday by the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily called Pompeo a “notorious” anti-China politician who took pride for “lying, cheating and stealing” while in office.

China imposed sanctions on after Pompeo left office at the end of Trump’s presidency last year. Besides Pompeo, Beijing also imposed sanctions on 27 other top Trump-era officials for “lying and cheating.”

Over the last two years, China has increased its military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan, as it deems Taiwan as part of its territory waiting for reunification, even with the use of force.

Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, the former U.S. administration gave Taiwan strong support, including high-profile arms and visits by top U.S. officials.

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