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President Tsai addresses Marshall Islands parliament
President Tsai addresses Marshall Islands parliament

On Tuesday, October 31 at 10:15 a.m. (Taipei time 6:15 a.m.) President Tsai Ing-wen delivered an address at the parliament of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The president is currently leading a delegation on a state visit to three of Taiwan's Pacific allies under the theme "Sustainable Austronesia, Working Together for a Better Future." 

Upon arrival, President Tsai was accompanied by Parliament Speaker Kenneth A. Kedi, and signed the parliament's guestbook in Chinese with the phrase "Maritime nations, sustainable democracy."   

Hereunder is a translation of President Tsai's address:

Since assuming the presidency of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 2016, this is my first state visit to the Marshall Islands. I very much appreciate this opportunity to visit the preeminent democratic institution of your esteemed country, and meet so many close friends of Taiwan.

Taiwan and the Marshall Islands have a great deal in common. We are surrounded by the same ocean. And both of our countries, through the persistent efforts of previous generations, were able to overcome formidable challenges to achieve the democracy and freedom we enjoy today.

After my arrival here, I used Chinese characters to write the phrase "Maritime nations, sustainable democracy" in your guestbook. Indeed, these are the ties that bind us together.

Today, it is my great honor to address the parliament of the Marshall Islands. This is not just a privilege for me personally, but is also a testament to the cordial ties between our peoples. The purpose of all of our exchanges and cooperation projects is to deepen and expand our bilateral relations.

In the past two years, Speaker Kedi has visited Taiwan. Indeed, he is one of our closest friends, someone with a great understanding of Taiwan who gives us his unstinting support. On behalf of the 23 million people of Taiwan and the government of the Republic of China, I want to express my gratitude to you, and the entire Marshallese parliament, for the kind invitation to deliver an address.

Under the leadership of Speaker Kedi, the Marshallese parliament passed a proposal in August of last year, introduced by Senator Maynard Alfred. Known as Resolution No. 28, it was cosponsored by 18 senators, and called for further strengthening of relations between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands, clearly demonstrating that the parliament deeply values our diplomatic ties.

Like parliament, the administration led by President Heine has also taken measures to support Taiwan's participation in important international organizations and mechanisms such as the WHA, the UNFCCC, and ICAO. Here, I want to offer the sincere gratitude of the people of Taiwan.

Taiwan's foreign policy is based on steadfast diplomacy, and guided by the principle of mutual assistance for mutual benefits. Our goal is to cooperate with our diplomatic partners, strengthen relations, and achieve win-win partnerships that benefit all parties.

Taiwan is therefore taking practical steps to enhance exchanges with the Marshall Islands. In education, in addition to our existing cooperation programs, yesterday we officially launched a Presidents' Scholarship Fund program, as proposed by President Heine. The aim is to encourage even more students to pursue further studies, not just to realize their own personal aspirations but also to contribute to national prosperity.

Sustainable development is a key priority for Taiwan. That is why implementing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals is a critical component of our efforts to expand diplomatic relations. This is reflected in the theme of my visit: "Sustainable Austronesia, Working Together for a Better Future."

We are doing our utmost to contribute to the Marshall Islands' efforts to enhance food security and promote healthy diets. We have made progress in areas such as agriculture and animal husbandry. Our Technical Mission not only helps farmers grow vegetables and fruits, but also organizes farmers' markets so that farming can become an important source of income.

At the same time, our Technical Mission assists with pig breeding, and helps transport pigs to outlying islands. It also cultivates seed teachers to disseminate related technologies and knowledge. These pigs have become a popular and stable source of food.

Sustainability and zero waste concepts are also an important component of our Technical Mission's plans. For example, our two countries have jointly set up a green farm. All waste products on the farm are recycled and reused based on the concept of a circular economy.

Another important element in our bilateral cooperation is striking a balance between development and ecological sustainability. This also means that in the fight against climate change, the Marshall Islands will always be able to count on Taiwan for necessary support.

Reciprocity and mutual assistance foster friendship, and long-term collaboration creates unbreakable bonds between peoples. One of the best examples of these concepts is the medical cooperation between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands.

Over the past three years, we have dispatched 95 people in over 27 medical teams to the Marshall Islands to provide public health and medical services. President Heine has commended their efforts to prevent and treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels among the people of the Marshall Islands.

The mobile medical teams from Taiwan's Shuang Ho Hospital have also made structural changes to medical care in the Marshall Islands, and helped advance overall quality. Yesterday, we also signed an accord on a medical internship program between Shuang Ho Hospital and Marshallese healthcare agencies.

This kind of collaboration, bringing medical professionals from Taiwan to the Marshall Islands, helps improve management mechanisms at clinics and hospitals. It also offers local personnel a chance to enhance their skills and provide medical care to more Marshallese.

I also want to highlight our shared Austronesian heritage. Last year, our Legislative Yuan established the Taiwan and Austronesian Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association. On this trip, I have been joined by the minister of our Council of Indigenous Peoples, as well as several indigenous members of our Legislative Yuan. We hope that Austronesian culture can serve to deepen mutual exchanges and understanding.

I also want to take this opportunity to announce that in the near future, Taiwan will start offering visa-free treatment to the nationals of our six Pacific allies, including the Republic of the Marshall Islands. I am sure this will boost our bilateral relations.

In closing, I want to once again thank President Heine, Speaker Kedi, and the honorable senators for your kind invitation. Taiwan cherishes our diplomatic ties, and has high expectations for the future of our partnership. I am confident that we will continue to develop cooperation models that reflect my message in your guestbook: "Maritime nations, sustainable democracy." 

Thank you! Kommol tata!["Thank you very much" in Marshallese]

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