House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen for a meeting and an award ceremony Wednesday morning, amid a visit to the country that China has strongly condemned.
During her remarks at the president's office in Taipei, Pelosi addressed U.S.-Taiwan relations, a point of contention for the Chinese government.
"Today, our delegation, of which I'm very proud, came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship," she said at the Wednesday morning ceremony.
"America made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan," Pelosi added, referencing the Taiwan Relations Act. "And on this strong foundation, we have built a thriving partnership, grounded in our shared values of self-government and self-determination, focused on our mutual security interests in the region and across the world, committed to the economic ties that power, prosperity for all of our people."
While the U.S. officially recognizes the One China policy, which says Taiwan is a part of China’s territory, Pelosi said the U.S. backs the country’s desire for freedom.
During the meeting, Pelosi was presented with the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon award, Taiwan’s highest civilian honor. It is a symbol of America’s commitment to and friendship with Taiwan.
"Thank you, Madam President," Pelosi said. "It's with great, immense admiration for your leadership and great personal humility that I accept this award."
Pelosi repeatedly praised Tsai Ing-wen for being the first female president in Taiwan’s history and said Congress is unified in its decision to support Taiwan.
"I accept it not for me only, but for our members of Congress who were so instrumental in all that you said about our accomplishments together, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, both sides of the aisle united in our support for Taiwan," she said. "This time, I am so excited to receive this award on behalf of the United States Congress, which is just [as] unwavering [in their support].".
She added: "I look forward to displaying this award in the Speaker's office."
The two leaders shared an elbow bump ahead of her remarks and both were wearing face masks during the meeting.
"We're proud to be here," Pelosi continued, speaking on behalf of the Democratic delegation visiting the country.
"The story of Taiwan is an inspiration to all freedom-loving people in the United States and around the world. Out of a crucible of challenge, you have produced a flourishing democracy, one of the freest in the world and proudly led by a woman president," she added.
Pelosi said her visit to Taiwan underscored the U.S. support for the country’s future.
"Indeed the people of Taiwan have proven to the world that with hope, courage and determination, it is possible to build a peaceful and prosperous future, even in terms of the challenges you face. And now more than ever, America's solidarity with Taiwan is crucial. And that is the message we are bringing here today," she said.
Pelosi added: "Today, the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America's determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad. And we are grateful to the partnership of the people of Taiwan in this mission."
The meeting comes amid heightened tension with China and with the Chinese government strongly condemning the visit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Joe Biden in a phone call Thursday that the U.S. must not "play with fire" regarding its activities and communications with Taiwan.
"Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this," a Chinese readout of the Biden-Xi call said.
Pelosi's meeting with the Taiwan president comes just days after Taiwan endured cyberattacks and as Taiwan's Ministry of Defense has accused China of violating international law & Taiwan's sovereignty.
China has also announced live-fire military exercises in different areas around Taiwan.
The U.S., in response, has sent several warships stationed from Singapore to the waters near Taiwan, in what the military claims are a standard military drill.
The Navy sent the USS Ronald Reagan, the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins to the Philippine Sea, East of Taiwan.
During Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, she also met with Taiwanese lawmakers and visited the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's house of parliament.
Pelosi was joined at the meeting by a delegation of Democratic members of Congress, including Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York, Mark Takano of California, Suzan DelBene of Washington, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Andy Kim of New Jersey.
Fox News’ Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.