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President Tsai attends expatriate banquet and One Town One Product (OTOP) exhibit in Honduras
President Tsai attends expatriate banquet and One Town One Product (OTOP) exhibit in Honduras

On January 8 (Sunday) at 7:30 p.m. local time (January 9, 9:30 a.m. Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project" hosted a banquet in the Republic of Honduras for the local Taiwanese expatriate community as well as Hondurans who have studied in Taiwan. At the banquet President Tsai outlined the many successes that have been achieved in bilateral cooperation projects, and expressed hope that, by strengthening bilateral economic and trade ties, the two countries can continue to enhance friendly diplomatic ties.

The following is a translation of the president's remarks:

We are very happy to be here in Honduras. This is the first stop on our trip to Central America, and is also the first time for me to set foot on Honduran soil.

I just now sat down for a chat with those of you who've studied in Taiwan, and I also went to an exhibit showing some of the successes achieved in the One Town One Product (OTOP) project.

I've seen many friends here in Honduras with ties to Taiwan, and so many Taiwanese people here working together with our expatriate community and respected associates in a foreign land to promote the development of a diplomatic ally and cultivate friendship between our two countries. On behalf of our country, I would like to say thank you to everyone.

We are here in this land as friends of the Honduran people, working together with them for a better tomorrow. For many years now, we have jointly conducted numerous cooperation projects. Guavas from Taiwan are being grown here, and various fruits and vegetables have been introduced from the Far East to enrich people's diets. There is also a very successful hog raising project. All of these undertakings have helped the people of highly agrarian Honduras to earn higher incomes.

It is especially worth noting that the hog raising project, in addition to enabling hog raising operations here to achieve sustainable operations by adopting corporate management techniques, has also introduced technology for generating electricity from the methane from hog plant wastewater. This technology reduces environmental pollution while simultaneously powering rural lighting.

Besides being in line with local needs, the fruits of these cooperation projects are a source of great pride for both Taiwan and Honduras, and they constitute a robust foundation for bilateral diplomatic ties.

After my electoral victory was confirmed in January of 2016, the first congratulations I received was a phone call from Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Since my inauguration, I have met with him three times, which I do believe means I've seen him more times than any other head of state.

Honduran Ambassador to the ROC Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada, who is with us here today, told me that the Chinese name—Xie La, meaning "thanks"—he chose for himself serves as a gesture of appreciation to Taiwan. Since taking up his post in Taiwan two years ago, Ambassador Sierra has often traveled around Taiwan making friends and telling people about Honduras. His presence in Taiwan has firmed up the friendship between our two countries.

That Honduran people attach such importance to Taiwan and feel so thankful is credit to the accumulated hard work by all of you. Here we see our expatriate community and Taiwanese businesses setting down enduring foundations in their chosen fields, and our diplomats and technical mission personnel working away. It is your contributions that have made our bilateral friendship what it is today.

The efforts you all make day in and day out are all part of Taiwan's diplomacy. Everything you do is an important step toward major achievements, so I want to thank you again for everything.

I would also like to specially thank our expatriates for your long-term support and care for Taiwan.

Taiwan and Honduras both face a need for economic transformation. Honduras is currently implementing an investment expansion program to boost employment and stimulate the economy and infrastructure-building. Taiwan is also actively promoting the innovative industries, and needs to enhance its external economic and trade ties.

Beginning this year, we will help the business community to annually form groups to visit Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America, to see things first hand and search for more cooperation opportunities so that the two countries can together create win-win progress.

Taiwan is in a very difficult international position, but we have never slacked off for that reason. During this trip, we intend to train a spotlight on the fact that no matter how great our difficulties, we are determined to be engaged with the rest of the world.

Honduras stands as eloquent testimony to the fact that Taiwan is able and willing to contribute to the international community. Our technical mission is working to cultivate healthy seedlings of avocado and seed potatoes, and is also conducting a sea-cage aquaculture project.

As president, I want to thank you all once again for your contributions. We understand these contributions better when we've personally experienced the progress. The government will give everyone maximum support, and we do believe that friendship and trust are built up bit by bit, one day at a time. We want to ask everyone to keep working hard to achieve more successes and further enhance diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Honduras, so that our two countries can enjoy shared prosperity and development. Let's work together in 2017. Thank you, everyone.

After concluding her remarks, President Tsai introduced each of the business community representatives in her delegation to the expatriates at the event. Among those she introduced were President Huang Yu-cheng (黃育徵) of Taiwan Sugar Corporation, Chairman Chan Cheng-tien (詹正田) of the Taiwan Textile Federation, President Lin Ching-po (林清波) of the Hotel Royal Group, 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 T.J. Tsai (蔡宗融) of the Power Master Group, and General Manager Robert Wang (王定愷) of Acer Inc. The president expressed hope that these representatives of agricultural, textile, and tourism firms will be able to take advantage of this trip to Honduras to discover opportunities for local development.

President Tsai also called on the Legislators in the delegation—Pasuya Yao (姚文智), Chou Chen Hsiu-Hsia (周陳秀霞), Hung Tzu-Yung (洪慈庸), Chuang Jui-Hsiung (莊瑞雄), Chen Ming-Wen (陳明文), and Yu Wan-Ju (余宛如)—to take advantage of their first-hand experience in Honduras and continue lending support in the legislature. She also expressed hope that the government officials and mayors of cities and counties in the delegation, after having witnessed the friendship of Honduras toward Taiwan, will continue working to promote diplomatic ties between the two countries.

President Tsai concluded her remarks by raising a toast to everyone in attendance. Among those present at the event were National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Ching-shan Hou (侯清山), Minister Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興) of the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Vice Minister of Agriculture Weng Chang-liang (翁章梁), Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Mei-Hua Wang (王美花), Yilan County Magistrate Lin Tsung-Hsien (林聰賢), ROC Ambassador to Honduras Alejandro R.K. Huang (黃榮國), and Honduran Ambassador to the ROC Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada.

A bit earlier in the day, President Tsai went to an exhibit showing some of the successes achieved in the OTOP project. At the exhibit Antonio T.R. Wang (王增瑞), a senior general manager at the International Cooperation and Development Fund, briefed the president on the successes that have been achieved through technical cooperation between Taiwan and Honduras. Examples include the Healthy Seed Potato Production Project and the Healthy Avocado Seedling Production Project. After that President Tsai learned about distinctive Honduran handicraft items from Selvin Barralaga (the director of the OTOP project in Honduras) and officials from the relevant government agencies. Entities participating in the exhibit enthusiastically presented President Tsai with an exquisite opal necklace and a leather bag with hand-crafted images of the Taipei 101 skyscraper and the Honduran Presidential Palace. The atmosphere at the exhibit was relaxed and exuberant.

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