President Tsai Ing-wen met with Eswatini's King Mswati III on the morning of June 8 at the Presidential Office, and the two heads of state stood witness as the respective economics ministers signed a bilateral economic cooperation agreement. The agreement is expected to strengthen all-round cooperation, and enhance the well-being of people in both countries.
In remarks, President Tsai said she had the privilege to lead a delegation to Eswatini this past April, a very special trip that she will never forget. So she was delighted to switch roles, and host King Mswati III in Taiwan.
President Tsai then recalled that at the double celebration ceremony this past April in Eswatini, King Mswati III announced he would discard the colonial name "Swaziland," and re-name his country Eswatini. That made his current visit to Taiwan King Mswati III's first state visit under the new name.
President Tsai then said that during her visit to Eswatini, she saw that King Mswati III is a hard-working head of state. She also saw that he loves his people, and that they love and respect him in return. She also learned that Eswatini had won the right to host the African Union Summit in 2020, and noted that under King Mswati III's leadership, Eswatini has become an influential country in Africa.
President Tsai also noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Eswatini's founding as an independent country, and the 50th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with Taiwan. She then said that in a few minutes, she and King Mswati III would witness the signing of an economic cooperation agreement to strengthen bilateral economic and trade ties. President Tsai then reaffirmed her previous promise that Taiwan will continue to implement a scholarship program at the technology college she visited in Eswatini, and a Greenhouse Project to give women in Eswatini more job opportunities.
President Tsai then thanked Eswatini for its long-term support for Taiwan in international society. She also emphasized that although international participation is difficult for Taiwan, isolationism has never been an option. She said that Taiwan will neither engage in the evils of dollar diplomacy, nor give up our ties to international society.
The president stated that Taiwan is ready, willing and able to make a greater contribution to international society. Either on our own, or working with other countries and international organizations, Taiwan will discuss and formulate cooperative plans in conjunction with our allies. For our allies, she said, those plans will effect changes that their people can see and feel, which is what "steadfast diplomacy" really means.
President Tsai closed her remarks by thanking King Mswati III for his long-term support for Taiwan. She noted that Taiwan is an island with powerful neighbors, and often faces challenges because of natural disasters, but those challenges never get the best of us. The more setbacks we face, she said, the more courage we have, adding that courage often comes from the support of good friends.
In his remarks, Eswatini's King Mswati III said that this was his 17th visit to Taiwan. He went on to thank the Taiwan government and people for the "amazing" reception the Eswatini delegation received, and especially for President Tsai's suggestion that the Eswatini delegation include many ministers and officials so they could have more interaction with Taiwan's government ministries.
King Mswati III went on to say that Eswatini is in the process of becoming a developed country, so Taiwan's developmental experience provides a good example from which to learn. He then commented that under President Tsai's leadership, the government team has communicated with the people, and government policies have received the people's support. These developments, he said, speak to President Tsai's outstanding leadership and her team's effectiveness, and he thus hopes to have more exchanges and cooperation with the Taiwan government. King Mswati III then offered sincere thanks for the medical and public health assistance that Taiwan has given Eswatini, and said he looks forward to even closer bilateral partnership.
King Mswati III then referred to Taiwan as his "second home," and reaffirmed that even though there are limitations on Taiwan's international participation, whatever future challenges Taiwan may face, as a long-term friend, Eswatini will continue to support Taiwan and help the international community understand Taiwan's outstanding contributions.
The Eswatini delegation included Minister of Economic Planning and Development Prince Hlangusemphi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mgwagwa Gamedze, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Jabulani Mabuza, Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama. Accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), the delegation proceeded to the Presidential Office to meet with President Tsai, where Vice President Chen Chien-jen and National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維) were also in attendance.
Following the meeting, President Tsai and King Mswati III made their way to the Taiwan Heritage Room to witness Taiwan Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-Chin (沈榮津) and Eswatini's Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Jabulani Mabuza sign an economic cooperation agreement.
The agreement is designed to strengthen economic, trade, technical, and investment cooperation and protect the natural environment to ensure sustainable development. Both sides hope the agreement will enhance the well-being of people in both countries and create mutual benefits and win-win propositions for both sides.
After the signing ceremony, the two heads of state, and the respective foreign affairs and economics ministers raised a toast to a lasting alliance and enduring friendship.