At noon on November 1 (Wednesday) local time (the morning of November 1 Taipei time) President Tsai Ing-wen attended a state banquet hosted by Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga.
In remarks, President Tsai noted that when Prime Minister Sopoaga led a delegation to Taiwan in October, she told him she wanted to visit Tuvalu sometime soon. So she was very happy so soon thereafter to get together with her friends in Tuvalu. She thanked the prime minister and his wife for inviting her to visit, and for arranging such a sumptuous state banquet.
President Tsai pointed out that the people of Tuvalu are natural musicians and like to create both lyrics and melodies to commemorate important people and events. The last time Prime Minister Sopoaga visited Taiwan, he made a lasting impression during a state banquet by singing his own composition, entitled “Ode to Friendship Between Taiwan and Tuvalu." His fine singing voice and the friendly sentiments expressed, she said, were quite moving.
President Tsai stressed that, in addition to official ties that date back almost 40 years, Taiwan and Tuvalu are also linked by their shared Austronesian cultural background. The languages of Taiwan's indigenous peoples are similar to the Tuvalu language. The number "five," for example, is pronounced "lima" by Taiwan's Amis, Paiwan, and Puyuma peoples, which is the same in Tuvaluan.
Pointing out that "lima" also means "hand," President Tsai expressed hope that this conversation about languages would spur Taiwan and Tuvalu to join hands in closer cooperation, so that links between the two countries can take on further depth and breadth. Noting that Prime Minister Sopoaga had said that "we are all in the same canoe," she added that Taiwan and Tuvalu have supported and helped each other for many years, much the way families do, weathering storms and overcoming difficulties together. Taiwan cherishes this valuable friendship, she said.
President Tsai also stressed that Taiwan and Tuvalu will continue working so that they can ride the wind and waves together while making their canoe even stronger and more seaworthy. And finally, President Tsai raised a toast to express a shared wish for the continued prosperity of both countries and a lasting friendship.
Among those present at the banquet were the following senior Tuvalu officials: Tuvalu Governor-General Iakoba Taeia Italeli and Mrs. Italeli; Prime Minister Sopoaga's wife; Tuvalu Parliamentary Speaker Otinielu Tauteleimalae Tausi and Mrs. Tausi; and Tuvalu Deputy Prime Minister Maatia Toafa and Mrs. Toafa. Among those representing Taiwan 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 Tuvalu Marc J.C. Su (蘇仁崇).