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President Tsai hosts state banquet for Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
President Tsai hosts state banquet for Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare

On the evening of September 26 President Tsai Ing-wen, accompanied by Vice President Chen Chien-jen and his wife, hosted a state banquet at the Presidential Office Building for Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Mrs. Sogavare, and their delegation. In addition to emphasizing the importance of pursuing a policy of "steadfast diplomacy" by experiencing things first-hand, the president also expressed hope that Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, working in a spirit of "mutual assistance for mutual benefits," can enhance exchanges and cooperation while increasing the well-being of the peoples in both nations.

In remarks, President Tsai noted that when Prime Minister Sogavare came to Taiwan in July 2016 he kept up a very busy schedule, visiting northern, central, and southern Taiwan (Yilan, Nantou, and Kaohsiung, respectively). The president said she was very happy that Prime Minister Sogavare has had opportunities to develop a better understanding of local customs and the state of development in Taiwan.

President Tsai also expressed hope that the peoples of Taiwan and the Solomon Islands can come to know each other's country better. For many years now, she said, the two sides have cooperated closely in many different fields, and growing numbers of Taiwanese can now be found in the Solomon Islands including young volunteers, researchers, and members of technical teams who are there to assist with industrial development. On September 28, she noted, Prime Minister Sogavare is scheduled to go to the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung for an exhibition entitled A String of Pearls in the South Pacific: the Solomon Islands, which shows the results of bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

President Tsai pointed out that studying in Taiwan is a subject of intense interest in the Solomon Islands, and more than 500 students have already applied for scholarships to study here. In fact, Prime Minister Sogavare met that same afternoon at the the Solomon Islands embassy with students from his nation who have experienced Taiwan in the most direct manner possible. In the future they will be "Taiwan experts" in the Solomon Islands, and will serve as excellent links between the two countries.

The president then noted that there are more and more Taiwan experts in the Solomon Islands, and that the people of Taiwan have come to understand the Solomon Islands better. In the future, we will use exhibitions, activities, and other such exchanges to continue moving forward in that direction.

President Tsai mentioned that the very first port call made by the ROC Navy's Dunmu Fleet this past April was in the Solomon Islands, and in June Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維) also visited to learn more about the current state of bilateral cooperation. In fact, Taiwan is pursuing its policy of "steadfast diplomacy" to develop a first-hand experience and understanding of its friends, and the president said she hopes to have more exchanges with Prime Minister Sogavare and the Solomon Islands in the future.

After her remarks, President Tsai drank a toast with her distinguished guests to express a shared wish for the continued prosperity of both countries and a lasting friendship.

In remarks of his own, Prime Minister Sogavare stated that he and his delegation members were very honored to visit Taiwan, and thanked Taiwan for its thoughtful arrangements for all the formal and informal elements of their itinerary, including military honors. This visit, he said, has given him a keen appreciation for the hard-working persistence of the people of Taiwan, and the island's vigor and vitality.

Prime Minister Sogavare pointed out that he has recently heard descriptions of the "Taiwanese way" of doing things, and has learned that people in all walks of life strive to take part in the events whether they are administrative initiatives led by government leaders, or friendly private athletic competitions. On the evening of September 25, for example, he personally witnessed this "Taiwanese way" at a banquet hosted by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His visits to Taiwan, he said, have helped him understand that the "Taiwanese way" is to make a commitment, to spare no effort to honor it, and to rejoice in the success that eventually results. He therefore has concluded that the Solomon Islands should also have a "Solomon Islands way" of its very own.

Prime Minister Sogavare thanked Taiwan for coming to the aid of the Solomon Islands in times of difficulty, and said that only through bilateral exchanges and cooperation will Taiwan and the Solomon Islands be able to achieve their shared objectives. Commenting on how Taiwanese enterprises have contributed to their own country's economic development, he expressed hope that the Solomon Islands can get Taiwanese firms to open up operations in the Solomon Islands, helping to develop the Solomon Islands economy and enhance his country's competitiveness. And finally, Prime Minister Sogavare raised a toast to celebrate the enduring friendship between the Solomon Islands and Taiwan.

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