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President Tsai attends state banquet hosted by Marshall Islands President Heine
President Tsai attends state banquet hosted by Marshall Islands President Heine

On the evening of October 30 (Monday) local time, (noon of October 30, Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen attended a state banquet hosted by President Hilda C. Heine of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

In remarks, President Tsai said that although this was Day 1 of the Taiwan delegation's visit, two memorandums of understanding had already been signed, and President Tsai and the members of her delegation had conducted in-depth discussions with President Heine and the members of her cabinet. On behalf of the delegation, President Tsai thanked President Heine, her husband, and everyone else at the banquet for their gracious hospitality.

President Tsai pointed out that during her visit to Taiwan in May 2016,  President Heine had invited President Tsai to visit the Marshall Islands. Since then, President Tsai said, she had been hoping to have a chance to visit such a beautiful country. After getting off the airplane earlier in the day, she immediately felt the warmth of the Marshall Islands people, while the beautiful scenery and the scent of the ocean breeze made her feel at ease and at home.

President Tsai stated that the Marshall Islands and Taiwan share many issues of common interest. For example, the largest hospital in the Marshall Islands—Majuro Hospital—is a sister hospital of Taipei Medical University Shuang Ho Hospital in Taiwan. In addition to jointly providing medical services, the two hospitals also conduct medical research and cultivate young physicians.

President Tsai mentioned that earlier that afternoon she witnessed the signing of an agreement to continue a medical internship program, as well as establish a hospital information system. Majuro Hospital has now officially become a teaching hospital, she said, adding that students who graduate from the School of Medicine for International Students at Taiwan's I-Shou University will go to the Marshall Islands for clinical internships. At the signing ceremony, a young physician named David Alfred spoke about his experience as a doctor in the Marshall Islands since graduating from I-Shou University, just one success story as a result of cooperation in the field of healthcare, inspiring hope that Majuro Hospital will continue to develop into a major medical center.

President Tsai said that the Marshall Islands and Taiwan are also linked by their shared Austronesian cultural background, and Taiwan's indigenous peoples and the Marshallese have similar languages and lifestyles.

President Tsai stressed that Taiwan and the Marshall Islands are both working to promote environmentally sustainable development. The government and people of the Marshall Islands speak out boldly on the issue of global climate change in international venues to ensure sustainable development of their homeland, and remind other nations that we must all work together to overcome our common challenges. President Tsai said she was deeply impressed by the Marshall Islands' efforts to ensure national survival and development.

President Tsai further emphasized that Taiwan, as a staunch diplomatic ally of the Marshall Islands, a responsible member of the international community, and a country that stands by its friends, will do everything possible to support Marshallese efforts to achieve environmental sustainability.

The president also pointed out that the purpose of this trip is to build on existing partnerships so that Taiwan and the Marshall Islands can support each other, cooperate, and engage with the rest of the world in the magnanimous spirit of maritime nations.

In closing, President Tsai once again thanked President Heine for the invitation to visit, and her hospitality. She also raised a toast to the prosperity of Taiwan and the Marshall Islands, and a lasting friendship.

President Tsai enjoyed a traditional Marshall Islands Jabwa Dance during the banquet in a friendly and festive atmosphere.

Banquet attendees included the following officials from the Marshall Islands government: President Heine's husband, Thomas Kijiner Jr.; Council of Iroij Chairman Kotak Loeak, and his wife; Nitijela Speaker Kenneth A. Kedi and Mrs. Kedi; Foreign Affairs Minister John M. Silk and Mrs. Silk; and Ambassador to the ROC Frederick H. Muller. Among those representing Taiwan at the banquet were: Secretary-General to the President Joseph Wu (吳釗燮); National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥); Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維); Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中); Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Icyang Parod (夷將‧拔路兒); and ROC Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Tang Diann-wen (唐殿文).

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