On the morning of September 1 President Tsai Ing-wen presented Chairman Ed Royce of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs with the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon in recognition of his outstanding contributions over many years toward stronger Taiwan-US relations, and his support for Taiwan's international participation.
In remarks, President Tsai first expressed sympathy for all those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and especially in Houston. She stated that the people of Taiwan know well how the victims feel, and are very willing to provide any needed assistance.
The president noted that the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon expresses gratitude and friendship toward people who have made important contributions to Taiwan, and said the awarding of the medal to Chairman Royce was to thank him for being Taiwan's most loyal and important friend for a long time. Chairman Royce is certainly fully deserving of this medal, she said.
The president pointed out that during his tenure as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Royce has actively helped Taiwan by pushing important Taiwan-friendly legislation and issues. For example, in 2016 the US Congress passed a concurrent resolution, "reaffirming the US commitment to Taiwan by upholding the Six Assurances as one of the cornerstones of US-Taiwan policy, right alongside the Taiwan Relations Act." Also, Chairman Royce promoted the passage of a bill by the House of Representatives to authorize the US president to transfer Perry class frigates to Taiwan.
President Tsai noted that Chairman Royce also strongly supports international participation by Taiwan, and pushed to have the US Congress pass bills to support Taiwan's participation as an observer in the World Health Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
President Tsai stated that Taiwan-US relations have always been close and steadfast. Among those who have made important contributions to this state of affairs are Congressional leaders like Chairman Royce, who give Taiwan their full support, and allow Taiwan-US relations to continually advance toward an "upgraded version" of a strategic partnership.
In his remarks after receiving the medal, Chairman Royce said that although he was accepting the medal as an individual, the medal was really for all Americans who work hard for Taiwan-US relations. He expressed belief that there are many matters that deserve joint efforts in the future, and said he looked forward to working hand-in-hand with Taiwan to further enhance Taiwan-US cooperative relations.
Chairman Royce pointed out that as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee he has always made Taiwan-US relations the committee’s primary mission. He also took the opportunity to reiterate that promises by the US regarding the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances are firm and unchanged. Chairman Royce also recounted that on August 31 in Kaohsiung, he visited a Perry class frigate that had just been refitted, which was particularly meaningful for him since it was a bill he helped pass in 2013 that urged the US to transfer those frigates to Taiwan. Chairman Royce then promised that in the future, he would continue to promote bilateral defense cooperation and regular arms sales to Taiwan, and would continue working to fight for Taiwan's participation in international organizations.
Chairman Royce also noted that since the US included Taiwan in its Visa Waiver Program the number of visits between the two countries has increased by 50%. At present, he is actively promoting an agreement on direct flights between Taiwan and Ontario International Airport (near Los Angeles) in the hope of giving people even more travel choices, and consequently driving economic growth and job opportunities in both countries.
Chairman Royce also thanked the government of Taiwan for its support for post-disaster recovery efforts in Texas. Taiwan has always been a friend when others need it most, and he believes that the people of Texas will long remember this feeling of friendship.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Chairman Royce's wife, Marie Therese Royce; Chairman Ted Yoho of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and Mrs. Yoho; Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon; American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office Director Kin Moy; Secretary-General to the President Joseph Wu (吳釗燮); Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維); and Mayor Cheng Wen-Tsan (鄭文燦) of Taoyuan City.