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President Tsai addresses National Parliament of Solomon Islands
President Tsai addresses National Parliament of Solomon Islands

At 11 a.m. on November 2 (Thursday) local time (8 a.m. on November 2, Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen delivered an address at the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands. 

Upon arriving at the National Parliament, President Tsai first met with Speaker Ajilon Nasiu. Following the meeting, Speaker Nasiu accompanied the president to the parliament chamber to deliver her address.

Hereunder is a translation of President Tsai's address:

I would first like to thank the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands for giving me this opportunity to speak on behalf of the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and my country's 23 million people.

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1983, Taiwan and the Solomon Islands have shared 34 years of friendship. I have received many of our dear friends from the Solomon Islands since taking office last year. Governor-General Sir Frank Kabui attended my inauguration; Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare visited Taiwan this past September; former Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga, as well as ministers and parliamentarians, have also visited Taiwan.

During our exchanges, we discussed our shared Austronesian culture, the goodwill visit by ROC Navy's Dunmu Fleet to the Solomon Islands, as well as cooperation on issues such as sustainable development, agricultural technology, and the healthcare environment.

After our exchanges, I was invited to see and experience the Solomon Islands in person. Today, I'm finally here to see and experience things first-hand.

I'd like to share a story with you about the friendship between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands. As you all know, the ancestors of Taiwan's indigenous peoples and Austronesians used boats to travel the vast Pacific Ocean.

In order to reclaim this nautical cultural memory, a group including the Amis people, who have historically lived in the eastern part of Taiwan, together with scholars from National Taitung University and local cultural workers, decided to rebuild their ancient sailboats, known as "fayan," based on the collective memory of the Amis people.

However, no one knew exactly how to build a "fayan" anymore. To solve this problem, someone recalled that people in the Solomon Islands still have this boat-building skill.

Taiwan Legislator Kolas Yotaka (谷辣斯·尤達卡), who is also with us today, and our Council of Indigenous Peoples located sailboat experts from Taumako Island who came to Taiwan to help the Amis people build a "fayan."

Solomon Islands Ambassador to the ROC Joseph Pius Waleanisia was present at the ceremony on the day the "fayan" was launched. Taiwan and the Solomon Islands thus achieved an important task by working together. This story demonstrates the spirit of working together for a better future, which is a major theme of this visit.

The experts from Taumako said it was like helping their own brothers solve a problem. And although more than five thousand kilometers separate Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, knowing that we have brothers on the other side of the ocean makes the distance seem much shorter.

A few weeks ago, Vice President Chen Chien-jen met a delegation from the Pacific Islands Leadership Program. Among the delegates was a young lady from the Solomon Islands, Ms. Cathy Hite.

Cathy told Vice President Chen that sometimes Pacific island nations don't even appear on world maps. But Taiwan's government has shown its sincere concern for the island-nations of the Pacific. She was very touched that someone considered them important.

Cathy's speech made a deep impression. And just as the Taumako experts saw their Taiwanese counterparts as brothers, we in Taiwan also consider you family. And being part of the same family means supporting each other, and moving ahead together.

As a member of the Pacific community, Taiwan is both willing and able to work together to make this a better world.

We are now faced with the challenge of global climate change, which will have an impact on both Taiwan and the Solomon Islands. This calls for closer cooperation if we are to turn this challenge into an opportunity. We must do our utmost to raise the quality of life for people in the region, and work together to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The memorandum of understanding on cooperation in meteorology we just signed will enhance technical cooperation, and help us monitor climate change trends. We also hope to identify some link between climate and dengue fever, and assist the Solomon Islands with disease prevention measures.

Taiwan is also promoting a long-term scholarship program for higher education. Beginning next year, there will be an additional 18 Taiwan Scholarships earmarked for our six Pacific allies. We welcome young people from the Solomon Islands to apply, whether in medicine, or in other fields.

Taiwan also sponsors another scholarship program in cooperation with the Pacific Islands Forum, and Solomon Islands National University is now included in the program as a partner institution.

We will continue to support young people from the Solomon Islands and other Pacific island-nations to reach their full potential through education. I’m confident that one day, these talented young people will contribute their expertise to sustainable development throughout the Pacific region.

The government of Taiwan will also help Solomon Islands National University install solar power facilities on campus, setting an example of bilateral cooperation in the fight against climate change.

Through the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund and the Official Development Assistance mechanism we are about to launch, we hope to help your country develop green energy generation and storage facilities to create a more stable and sustainable electric power system.

This past June, Taiwan's Legislative Yuan also formed a Taiwan-Solomon Islands legislative friendship group. All of these efforts are a testament to our friendship, which spans executive and legislative bodies, and the public and private sectors. With this kind of broad cooperation, our friendship can only grow stronger over time. 

Through our joint efforts, we built a "fayan" sailboat. My friends, let's use our shared ideas and visions as raw materials, and build an even bigger vessel of friendship. Together, we can explore the wider world, and shine together on the global stage.

In closing, I want to once again express our appreciation to the Solomon Islands for its long-term policy of speaking up for Taiwan in the international arena. The Taiwanese people are deeply grateful for your staunch support. 

And finally, please allow me to extend my best wishes to Speaker Nasiu and Prime Minister Sogavare, as well as the members of the Solomon Islands cabinet and parliament, and wish you all the very best of health and happiness.

Among those in attendance were Leader of the Opposition Jeremiah Manele, Leader of the Independent Group Derek Sikua, and former Deputy Prime Minister Maelanga.

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