President Tsai Ing-wen is leading a delegation on a state visit to two of Taiwan's allies in Latin America, Paraguay and Belize, from August 12 to 20 under the theme "A Journey of Joint Celebration." In both countries, the president will present distinctively Taiwanese gifts to the respective heads of state and others. On the afternoon of August 8, the Office of the President convened a press conference to showcase those gifts, with Presidential Office Spokesperson Chang Wen-lan (張文蘭) describing their special features and significance.
Spokesperson Chang stated that President Tsai will present Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes with a porcelain piece designed by Mr. Heinrich Wang (王俠軍). Alluding to President Cartes' nickname—The Rooster—the piece depicts an eminently distinguished rooster as the leader of the flock, wearing a neckerchief in red, the representative color of the ruling Colorado Party. In rural Taiwanese society the rooster symbolizes "caring for the home and family," just as President Cartes has always cared deeply about the well-being of the people. This gift also conveys President Tsai's best wishes and respect for President Cartes.
Spokesperson Chang then stated that Paraguay's President-elect Mario Abdo Benítez will be given a wood carving executed by Mr. Huang Sha-jung (黃紗榮), a master craftsman from Lukang Township in central Taiwan. The sculpture features a circular tree branch with grapes, grape vines, and a bird to depict endless vigor and vitality, while the circular branch carries a feeling of harmony and good fortune. These elements conveys President Tsai's best wishes for smooth sailing and much success as Mr. Abdo prepares to take office.
Spokesperson Chang then noted that incoming First Lady Silvana López Moreira de Abdo will be presented with a tea set (a teapot with two cups) created by Ms. Zhang Mei-yun (張美雲) of the Fa Hua Kiln. Ms. Zhang is an important ceramicist in Yingge Township, an area in northern Taiwan long renowned for its pottery. She has been active in the field for more than 40 years, and her works appear in many museum collections. The tea set features peonies as its main decorative motif, while a Formosan blue magpie forms the pot handle, reflecting Mrs. Abdo's radiant kindness and warmth while expressing the president's best wishes for success and good fortune.
Spokesperson Chang then said that President Tsai personally chose to give Paraguayan Vice President Alicia Beatriz Pucheta de Correa a three-string necklace of red carnelian because the vice president favors red accessories. The carnelian also symbolizes a "protector," making this an apt gift for the vice president, who previously served as a Supreme Court justice, protecting the justice system and fairness in Paraguay.
Incoming Paraguayan Vice President Hugo Velázquez Moreno, said Spokesperson Chang, will receive a lacquerware piece created by the master craftsman Mr. Lu Guan-zhong (盧關中). Mr. Lu said he was delighted to see one of his works selected as a gift for President Tsai's trip, which should be an encouraging sign for those working in lacquerware in Taiwan. The piece features a sun motif combined with a banana leaf (green), an Irwin mango (yellow), a wax apple (red) from Pingtung in southern Taiwan, and Kyoho grapes (purple), reflecting the cornucopia of fruits grown in Taiwan. The work also communicates Taiwan's wish to share this wealth with its diplomatic allies, and expresses a wish for Paraguay's prosperity.
Commenting on the gifts to be presented in Belize, Spokesperson Chang stated that Prime Minister Dean Barrow will receive a ceramic representation of wild geese executed by Mr. Henry Shen (沈亨榮), the founder and art director of 1300 Only Porcelain. The geese are depicted in flight, pursuing their dreams, symbolizing best wishes for Prime Minister Barrow as he leads the people of Belize toward a better life.
Spokesperson Chang then stated that Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow will receive another ceramic piece by Mr. Shen depicting a phoenix. Mrs. Barrow, said the spokesperson, has been actively involved in community service work, and like the phoenix, has devoted herself to serving the people.
Finally, Spokesperson Chang mentioned that President Tsai will present Belize Governor-General Sir Colville Young with a lacquer thread sculpture depicting a Formosan macaque climbing a tree, created by the master craftsman Mr. Yen Chin-yi (顏金益), and alluding to Governor-General Young's birth year, the Year of the Monkey. The governor-general has visited Taiwan many times and is a great admirer of Taiwanese culture, so the spokesperson is sure that he will like this sculpture.
After Spokesperson Chang completed her remarks, Mr. Huang Sha-jung and Mr. Henry Shen then explained the thought process behind creating the gifts for Paraguay's President-elect Abdo as well as Prime Minister and First Lady Barrow of Belize, respectively.