GOOD evening, everyone!
On behalf of the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Saint Lucia, I would like to extend to you our heartfelt welcome. It is my great pleasure to see so many friends here tonight to celebrate with us the 106th National Day of my country.
Today is exactly seven months since I arrived in Saint Lucia to assume the ambassadorship on March 6. And I must tell you that my wife Ling-hon and I have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this great country. We are fascinated by your beautiful scenery and warm hospitality. As Taiwan’s top diplomat in Saint Lucia, my aim is simple: to make as many friends as possible.
So far, I have made friends with people from all walks of life, and in particular, the Honourable Prime Minister Allen Chastanet. Mr. Prime Minister, I learned a lot from you, not only in regards to Saint Lucian politics, but also the game of golf. I am deeply moved by the immensity of friendship the Saint Lucian people has shown for Taiwan. Your support is deeply cherished by my government and our people.
The year 2017 marks a new milestone in Taiwan’s development. Since taking office in May 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen and the new administration have made great efforts to rejuvenate the economy and to improve Taiwan’s global competitiveness. At the heart of my government’s strategy is the New Southbound Policy, a comprehensive initiative aimed at deepening mutually beneficial ties between Taiwan and the Southeast Asian nations.
We have seen a 20% increase in trade volume between Taiwan and the ASEAN region, and nearly 30% raise in tourism exchanges. The government also allocated a US$12 billion special budget to implement new infrastructure programmes, which will be used in railway development, digital infrastructure, aquatic environment, green energy and ICT projects. Taiwan’s projected GDP for the year 2017 is US$567 billion, making it the 22nd largest economy in the world.
A strong Taiwan engaging actively and confidently in the international arena is beneficial to global harmony and prosperity. This August, Taiwan took up the responsibility of hosting the 2017 Summer Universiade, which is the largest global sporting event next to Olympics. Over 10,000 athletes from 134 countries came to Taipei to participate. It is widely regarded as one of the most successful Universiade events ever held.
As Taiwan finds itself in a challenging situation diplomatically, it must embrace new thinking to adapt to fast-moving and uncertain developments worldwide. Taiwan will continue to uphold steadfast diplomacy and apply the concept of mutual assistance for mutual benefit in order to expand exchanges and cooperation at all levels, strengthen relations with other friendly countries, and actively create win-win situations. Taiwan will also enhance ties with likeminded trading partners, such as the U.S., Japan and the E.U., and accelerate efforts to sign bilateral investment and free trade agreements.
Taiwan will remain pragmatic and active in pushing for participation in the United Nations and its affiliated organizations and mechanisms, including the WHA, ICAO, Interpol, and the UNFCCC. Taiwan will also take part in international collaboration on emerging issues of global concern, such as climate change and sustainable development; Taiwan is committed to fulfilling its international responsibilities, demonstrating that it is an invaluable cooperation partner.
In regard to Taiwan’s relations with mainland China, my government will uphold its pledge to maintain the status quo of peace and stability and deal with cross-strait affairs in a pragmatic manner. Taiwan will demonstrate the greatest goodwill and commitment, and keep open the door to communication and consultations, so as to build a cross-strait relationship based on mutual trust and cooperation.
Taiwan- Saint Lucia Relationship
Ladies and gentlemen, although Taiwan and Saint Lucia are thousands of miles apart, we do share many interesting similarities. If you look at the map, you will find our two islands are identical in shape. Geographically, we are both mountainous island states with limited natural resources. Historically, we have experienced colonial rule and our economies used to depend heavily on banana exports. Politically, Taiwan and Saint Lucia both are democratic countries, attaching great importance to freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
The founder of Saint Lucia and former Prime Minister, Sir John Compton, initiated the establishment of diplomatic relation with my country in 1984 out of recognition for Taiwan’s political reform and economic miracle. His vision is applauded by many Saint Lucians to this day.
During the past decade, the bonds between Taiwan and Saint Lucia have grown steadily. Our two countries have cooperated closely in the fields of agriculture, education, medical care, information technology and infrastructure. The results are overwhelming and have benefited many people across the island.
My government shares Honourable Prime Minister Chastanet’s vision of building a bilateral relationship based on reciprocity and mutual benefit. The idea goes hand in hand with the core concept of our “Steadfast Diplomacy.” Taiwan’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Liu Der-li, visited Saint Lucia last August and had an extensive and fruitful discussion with the Honourable Prime Minister. Our two countries will confirm the arrangements for future cooperation very soon.
I want to take this opportunity to reassure our Saint Lucian friends that Taiwan is committed to our relationship with your country and will continue to provide necessary support. The second phase of CDP projects should commence shortly. You will also be able to enjoy free WiFi in most parts of the island next year when the GI Net project is completed.
In regard to agriculture, new projects are underway to support the local farming community in the cultivation of bananas, fruits and vegetables. I have personally requested my government to send experts to revitalize the orchid centre in Union. I want to make the Union orchid centre, once again, the flagship project of our bilateral agriculture cooperation. I hope we will see beautiful orchid flowers from Union to decorate our National Day Reception next year.
There is also good news in our bilateral business cooperation. A Taiwanese company has arrived in Saint Lucia to establish a joint-venture food processing plant in Fond Assau. In the future, you can enjoy pineapple cake, dried mangoes, and fruit juice produced locally in Saint Lucia. The annual Saint Lucia-Taiwan Partnership Trade Exhibition will again be held at Johnsons Centre from November 24 to 26. The exhibition will showcase some of Taiwan’s best products. I hope to see you all there.
As our two countries both embark on our respective new endeavours, I foresee Taiwan playing a more active role in the infrastructure and economic development of Saint Lucia. At the same time, I urge Saint Lucia to continue supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Prime Minister Chastanet for acknowledging Taiwan’s contribution at the last U.N. General Assembly.
Tonight, six doctors and nurses from Taiwan Changhua Christian Hospital are with us in this room; they have been working in St. Jude Hospital as volunteers for three weeks. This is the 20th batch of volunteers from Changhua Christian Hospital. Over the past 9 years, 120 medical volunteers from Taiwan came to this island and served over 6,000 Saint Lucian patients. Let us give them a round of applause. I am also very proud to report to you that fifteen Saint Lucian students have been granted scholarship to study in Taiwan in 2017. At present, there are more than 80 Saint Lucian students studying in Taiwan and they are all doing very well.
Before I conclude my remarks, I want to take this opportunity to convey my government’s sincere gratitude to Your Excellency Dame PearletteLouisy for your support of my country over the years. I am honoured to be invited to the various celebrations commemorating your 20 years of excellent service. Thank you for honouring us by your attendance.
I want to thank all of our distinguished guests for joining my wife and me tonight. May you have a pleasant evening. Finally, allow me to propose a toast to the prosperity of Saint Lucia and to the everlasting friendship between our two countries.