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Trip highlights & achievements

President Tsai leads delegation to attend inauguration ceremony for Panama Canal Expansion and visit Republic of Paraguay

Purpose and results of the trip

After eight years of construction, the Panama Canal Expansion was completed and inaugurated in June 2016. Three months earlier in March, Panama President Juan Carlos Varela formally invited President Tsai Ing-wen to attend the inauguration ceremony for the canal expansion, set for June 26. And when the First Lady of Panama Lorena Isabel Castillo de Varela led a delegation to participate in President Tsa's inauguration in May, she reiterated the invitation on President Varela's behalf. Meanwhile, Paraguay President Horacio Cartes also led a delegation to President Tsai's inauguration, where he personally invited President Tsai to visit Paraguay.

Responding to these cordial invitations, President Tsai led a delegation between June 24 and July 2 to attend the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal Expansion, and to go on from there to visit Paraguay. This trip not only aimed to strengthen ties with the heads of state and officials of diplomatic allies, it also sought to carry out a new diplomatic thinking—"steadfast diplomacy"—based on building mutually beneficial two-way relationships with diplomatic allies. The delegation made two transit stops in the United States – Miami on the outbound leg and Los Angeles on the return leg. This was President Tsai's first time leading a delegation on an overseas diplomatic trip, aiming to strengthen our alliances with the two allies.

The 134-member delegation counted 89 non-press members, including National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維), Minister of the Overseas Community Affairs Council Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興), Deputy Secretaries-General to the President Jason Chien-sin Liu (劉建忻) and Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Ching-shan Hou (侯清山), Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fuu (楊偉甫), seven parliamentarians, leading entrepreneurs from the fields of solar energy, textiles, motor manufacturing and food processing, as well as delegation staff. The other 45 members were the traveling press corps

The President's itinerary(Local time)

 

Results of the trip

  • Unveiling a new diplomatic thinking: “Steadfast Diplomacy” based on strengthening mtual assistance for mutual benefits:
    On several occasions while speaking to the legislature and political leaders of diplomatic allies, President Tsai laid out in detailed and concrete terms the meaning of "steadfast diplomacy", which is two-fold:
    • To be "unwavering" in our pursuit of greater international space for Taiwan, by working with diligence and pragmatism, taking one steady step at a time and solving every diplomatic challenge we meet.
    • To be "firm in purpose" in upholding freedom and democracy, and to work closely with countries that share these values, not only to benefit each other, but to contribute tangibly to the international community. This, we believe, is the best way to fortify the international status of our country.
  • Meeting with diplomatic allies' presidents and high-ranking government officials to strengthen bilateral ties:
    The two allies Panama and Paraguay warmly welcomed President Tsai with military honors and state banquets. Paraguay also conferred upon her the Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez Honor Medal—the nation's highest honor. In addition, President Tsai was invited to deliver an address before the Paraguayan Congress. Clearly the two allies placed great importance on President Tsai's visit. During the trip the president also met with seven presidents, vice presidents and high-ranking officials from diplomatic allies, thus maximizing the function of a head of state to strengthen our country's foreign relations.
  • Expanding Taiwan's international participation and raising our international profile:
    President Tsai attended the Panama Canal Expansion inauguration ceremony, which received high-profile coverage by international news media. During the ceremony, the president interacted with many high-ranking political leaders from other countries, substantially elevating Taiwan's international image.
  • Enhancing youth diplomacy and encouraging NGOs to expand interactions with counterparts in other countries:
    During the trip President Tsai hosted luncheons with Panama and Paraguay students who studied in Taiwan through the Taiwan Scholarship Program. She also announced that the Taiwan Scholarship Program, after increasing the number of Panamanian recipients last year, will raise the number of Paraguayan awardees from 14 to 28 per year. Taiwan will do even more in the future to encourage young people to interact across borders, such as by expanding scholarship programs and attracting even more outstanding students from diplomatic allies to study and work in Taiwan. While in Paraguay, the president also met with representatives from Taiwan's Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Paraguay Liaison Office and Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light International Association), to learn about humanitarian aid projects the two organizations are promoting in Paraguay. In addition, she stood witness as Taiwan's ASUS Foundation donated 400 notebooks and tablet computers to Paraguayan schools. The president encouraged NGOs to fulfill their powerful role as frontline representatives of Taiwan's diplomacy, and to work hard to win greater international space for Taiwan.
  • Advancing economic and trade diplomacy and building relationships of mutual benefit:
    Joining the delegation were leading entrepreneurs from Taiwan's major solar energy, textile, motor manufacturing and food processing firms. During the trip, they interacted frequently with Panamanian and Paraguayan government officials and business representatives, and gained a better understanding of local business and investment environments. We will work with our diplomatic allies to become each other's gateway and bridge into Asian and Latin American markets. Under the principle of mutual benefit we will pursue win-win economic growth and development.
  • Meeting with expatriates:
    President Tsai received enthusiastic welcomes by our expatriates in both Panama and Paraguay. She spoke of her hope that Taiwan's expatriates could be the bridge that connects Taiwan to the world, each doing their part to lift Taiwan onto the international stage.
  • Results of transits in the US:
    President Tsai's transit stops in the United States were filled with activities that yielded significant successes. In both Miami and Los Angeles she received warm welcomes by members of US Congress, political leaders, and Taiwan's expatriate communities. These public officials and expatriate leaders joined more than 400 people in Miami and over 800 in Los Angeles at the expatriate banquets, leading to overflowing venues and festive scenes. Miami International Airport authorities and state officials were excited by and celebrated the arrival of our presidential aircraft, which marked the first direct flight between Taipei and Miami. President Tsai also met with Taiwanese pitcher and Major League Baseball (MLB) star Wei-Yin Chen (陳偉殷) and his family, telling him that our entire country is rooting for him. The president also visited PortMiami, a sister port of our Kaohsiung harbor, to understand the status of local investments by our shipping industry, and to highlight the close economic and trade ties between Taiwan and the US. In addition, the venerated National Federation of Democratic Women (NFDW) took the initiative to pass a ceremonial resolution to celebrate President Tsai's achievement as the first democratically-elected female president in the history of the ROC and the Chinese-speaking world. NFDW President Joanne Sullivan personally presented the resolution to President Tsai at the banquet for expatriates in Miami. The US fully respected and recognized the president's transit schedule and activities.
    In addition, during her visit in Panama and transits in the US, President Tsai spoke over the phone with two US congressional leaders—Orrin Hatch (Senate President Pro Tempore and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) and Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House)—to exchange views on important issues. She also had face-to-face interactions with 28 US Congress members at various meetings, discussions, receptions, breakfasts and banquets. Several of them—including Senator Marco Rubio, who had campaigned for the presidency, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ed Royce, Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Taiwan-born US Congressman Ted Lieu—took to their public and personal websites, Twitter and the media to stress how important Taiwan is as a partner to the US. They also reiterated their support for Taiwan to join second round negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and promised to continue working with Taiwan to enhance bilateral relations. All of these interactions fully showed how important President Tsai's visit is to the US Congress, and further solidified the already staunch support that Congress has for our country.
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