On the afternoon of October 13, the Office of the President called a press conference to announce that President Tsai Ing-wen would lead a delegation to the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands from October 28 through November 4. The planned itinerary was presented by Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Chih-Chung (吳志中).
Deputy Minister Wu explained that the theme for this trip is "Sustainable Austronesia, Working Together for a Better Future—2017 State Visits to Pacific Allies." Since President Tsai took office last year, leaders of diplomatic allies in the Pacific including President Hilda C. Heine of the Marshall Islands, Prime Minister Enele S. Sopoaga of Tuvalu, and Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands have sent messages via their embassies many times to express hope that President Tsai would visit.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare, who just finished a visit to Taiwan, and the Tuvalu Prime Minister Sopoaga, currently visiting Taiwan, both took advantage of meetings with President Tsai to personally invite her to lead a delegation to their respective countries. To demonstrate the importance Taiwan places on its Pacific diplomatic allies, and to further enhance links and friendly relations with countries in the region, President Tsai will lead a delegation to visit the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands.
Deputy Minister Wu pointed out that the three countries on the itinerary have maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan longer than any of our other diplomatic allies in the Pacific. Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands have had formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan for more than 30 years, while the Marshall Islands has been a diplomatic ally for nearly 20 years. Hopefully the president's first visit to Pacific island nations since taking office will demonstrate how seriously Taiwan takes its long-standing friendships with these countries, as well as our determination to enhance bilateral relations. This trip will also be a "visit with family," he said, because Taiwan's indigenous tongues belong to the Austronesian language family, and the same also applies to the languages spoken in the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands, even though these latter are located in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia, respectively. So in addition to Secretary-General to the President Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維), this delegation will also include Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Icyang Parod (夷將‧拔路兒) as well as other ministers and legislators, who will bear witness to the cultural links between Taiwan and its Pacific diplomatic allies, as well as to the concrete results of cooperation.
Commenting on the itinerary for this trip, Deputy Minister Wu said that the delegation is scheduled to depart Taiwan on the morning of October 28 (Saturday), arrive in the Marshall Islands on the afternoon of October 30, leave for Tuvalu early on the morning of November 1, and arrive in the Solomon Islands that same night, where they will spend two nights. They will return to Taiwan on the evening of November 4 (Saturday). The entire trip will last eight days and seven nights.
Deputy Minister Wu stated that President Tsai will meet during her trip with Marshall Islands President Heine, Tuvalu Governor-General Iakoba Taeia Italeli and Prime Minister Sopoaga, and Solomon Islands Governor General Frank Ofagioro Kabui and Prime Minister Sogavare, to have substantive exchanges of views on bilateral issues and international issues of common concern. In addition, President Tsai will deliver addresses before the legislatures of both the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands, and will inspect bilateral cooperation projects in healthcare and agriculture. She will thus highlight our country's ideals of "steadfast diplomacy" and help diplomatic allies to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. President Tsai will also host banquets for overseas compatriots and the staff and families of our embassies to show that the government acknowledges their importance and cares about their well-being.