President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who are currently in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," hosted a luncheon for the Taiwanese expatriate community in Guatemala at about 12:00 noon on Thursday, January 12 local time (2:00 a.m. on January 13 Taipei time) to convey praise for the many long years they have spent working and making contributions overseas.
In remarks, President Tsai said she was very happy to be able to meet with friends from the expatriate community in Guatemala. During her two days in Guatemala, she has received excellent hospitality from the Guatemalan government, has had a lot of interaction with President Morales, received the Order of the Quetzal in the Degree of Great Collar, and earlier in the morning delivered an address before the Guatemalan Congress. For all these diplomatic successes, she noted, there were many people to thank; in addition to all her colleagues at the ROC embassy, she also thanked the staff at the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) and the members of the expatriate community for their sustained efforts over the years. These efforts include cumulative investments of over US$100 million by Taiwanese firms in such industries as construction, manufacturing, food processing, and import/export activities, which have generated a lot of job opportunities for Guatemala and spurred economic growth.
President Tsai further pointed out that, economic matters aside, expatriate organizations have maintained cohesion among our fellow countrymen in Guatemala and have also been able to give back to the local community by taking part in charity activities, such as provision of free medical services and other aid to the needy. Through community services, they have enhanced friendship between Taiwan and Guatemala. At the same time, technical specialists at TaiwanICDF have also rendered outstanding service. The cooperation projects carried out by Taiwan in Guatemala have played an important role in bilateral exchanges and made many contributions to the development of Guatemala's infrastructure and economy.
President Tsai said that exchanges between the two countries are guided by a long-term vision. For example, our medical mission in Guatemala does not limit itself to the provision of short-term free clinical services or one-off donations of medicines. Beyond that, the mission also helps to establish sustainable, robust medical services. Last year Taiwan began planning out a new medical cooperation project intended to lower the mortality rate of pregnant women and infants. Under this project, we will not just provide infrastructure resources, but will also encourage local medical service personnel to receive training in Taiwan that is designed to cultivate long-term talent for Guatemala.
The president stated that the benefits of long-term projects gradually become apparent over time. When she visited the city of Antigua the day before, a colleague from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told her about the efforts of a reconstruction team from Taiwan that had taken part in rebuilding of the city after a big earthquake a few years ago. Thanks in part to the resources we contributed and the technologies we shared, a world-class Cultural Heritage site has been restored and carefully preserved, said the president, who remarked that the people who took part in that effort must certainly feel proud of the part they played. Long-term, long-vision projects of this sort are the most steadfast and mutually beneficial form of diplomacy between Taiwan and Guatemala.
President Tsai stated that despite how far apart Taiwan and Guatemala are geographically, our hearts are still together. We all care about Taiwan, our homeland, and hope that Taiwan will achieve a higher profile on the international stage. The president thanked everyone for their many years of hard work in Guatemala while calling upon her listeners to continue exerting influence in their chosen fields of endeavor, and to continue supporting the government. She also thanked colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the TaiwanICDF for their hard work, which is what made it possible for her delegation to feel so welcome and receive such high-level treatment.
President Tsai also pointed out that at breakfast that morning she encountered two young men who were performing their military service in Guatemala. The two said they were very happy to be working there, and felt it was quite meaningful. They also mentioned that in the future they would be very willing to work for Taiwan in Central America, either for the government or for a private company. The president praised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for dispatching young people overseas over the years, for it has given them opportunities to experience different cultures, languages, and lifestyles.
President Tsai said she believed that Taiwan's foreign affairs apparatus has plenty of young people who understand Taiwan's difficult position and are willing to get involved and have different life experiences, and she added that she feels very happy for these young people. The government will continue to provide young people with more opportunities to go overseas and see the world. All our efforts, noted the president, are intended to make Taiwan better, and to ensure stronger diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Guatemala. After expressing her hope to work together with everyone to achieve more successes, the president wished everyone good health and success in the new year.