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President Tsai hosts expatriate banquet in El Salvador
President Tsai hosts expatriate banquet in El Salvador

On the evening of Thursday, January 12 local time (9:45 a.m. on January 13 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who are currently in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," hosted an expatriate banquet in El Salvador, where the president told listeners that Taiwan is determined to engage with the rest of the world in the spirit of “steadfast diplomacy to strengthen mutual assistance for mutual benefits.”

In remarks, President Tsai first thanked the expatriate community leaders who had showed up at the airport to welcome her earlier that day. In addition, the president also thanked representatives of Taiwanese firms based in Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Brazil, and El Salvador for their presence at the banquet. The considerable effort they made to be there was very moving, she said.

Noting that this was her first time in El Salvador, President Tsai stated that although the two countries are separated by the Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean in the world, the name "El Salvador" nevertheless rings deeply familiar to the Taiwanese ear. Back in the 17th century, during the Age of Discovery, the Spanish once built a fort on Heping Island just off the Taiwan coast near Keelung. They named their fort "San Salvador," so the same place name once existed in both countries. "History is full of coincidences, but history doesn't move on to the next page without the courage and struggles of people," said the president.

President Tsai stated that the people of Taiwan and El Salvador have both lived under colonial rule and fought against injustice under authoritarian regimes. Today, Taiwan has finally achieved democracy, and its sufferings under a previous authoritarian regime makes the people all the more appreciative of their hard-won freedom. That is why we especially cherish our friendship with a country that shares our values.

According to the president, Taiwan's diplomats and technical mission personnel in El Salvador have worked very hard for many years on one cooperation project after another, including a number of One Town One Product (OTOP) projects. One of these is a project in the Ilobasco district to support the local "miniature pottery " handicrafts industry. By providing advisory services to local microbusinesses, the OTOP project in Ilobasco has helped many Salvadoran women to gain economic independence and escape poverty. Taiwan's technical mission in El Salvador, meanwhile, is currently conducting 30 different cooperation projects ranging from family aquaculture, sea farming, to horticulture . El Salvador is known as "the land of smiles," and the goal of our technical mission there is to help improve the lives of Salvadoran people so they can smile all that much more.

President Tsai stated that the principle of "steadfast diplomacy to strengthen mutual assistance for mutual benefits" is a "cooperative" concept. Our goal is to get both sides together to discuss appropriate projects and collaborate to achieve mutual benefits. A lot of business leaders have accompanied us on this trip, said the president, including Chairman Charles Huang (黃育徵) of the Taiwan Sugar Corporation, Chairman Chan Cheng-tien (詹正田) of the Taiwan Textile Federation, Chairman Chen Yu-jan (陳郁然) of the Taiwan International Agricultural Development Company, President Lin Chien-sung (林見松) of the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce, Chairman Tsai Tsung-jung (蔡宗融) of the PM Group, General Manager Robert Wang (王定愷) of the BYOC Business Unit at Acer Inc., and President Lin Ching-po (林清波) of the Hotel Royal Group. The president expressed hope that Taiwan's expatriate friends who run businesses will take advantage of this opportunity to chat with the delegation members, because identifying opportunities for industrial cooperation overseas was one of the purposes of the trip.

President Tsai pointed out that Taiwan has identified smart machinery, the Internet of Things, biotech and pharmaceuticals, green energy, and the circular economy as key industries, and Latin America is an important market for these industries. The president urged her listeners to use their local connections to alert Taiwanese firms to opportunities for business cooperation in order to form stronger links between industries and markets on both sides.

The president also mentioned that another purpose of this visit was to demonstrate Taiwan's determination to be engaged with the world. She then introduced the political leaders who were with the delegation, including several legislators and Yilan County Magistrate Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢), and called on everyone to pull together and work in unity for Taiwan's diplomacy regardless of political affiliations.

President Tsai stated her view that in Taiwan’s efforts to engage with the world, its expatriates are the ones who take the first steps and lay the groundwork. "For all of you, Taiwan is everyone's homeland, but so are El Salvador and Latin America," she said, "so I would like to invite all our expatriates to work together with us for both of your homelands."

Noting that El Salvador was the last stop on this visit, the president said that wherever she went during this trip she saw a lot of fellow Taiwanese, and all of them—embassy staff, technical mission personnel, volunteers, young men performing alternative military service, and others living and working overseas—were working hard for Taiwan. "Taiwan may not be very big, but each of you, through the work you do overseas, greatly extends our reach." President Tsai expressed boundless gratitude for the tremendous efforts put forth by everyone, and said this gratitude would spur her to work even harder to reform society, boost the economy, and make Taiwan a place that our fellow Taiwanese living overseas can be proud of.

President Tsai concluded her remarks by raising a toast to all the assembled guests and wishing for lasting friendship between Taiwan and El Salvador. A national folkdance troupe from the El Salvador presidential office's bureau of cultural affairs then put on a scintillating performance.

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