On the evening of Wednesday, August 15 local time (morning of August 16 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen hosted a banquet for representatives of the expatriate community in Paraguay, and presented certificates to Taiwan Scholarship recipients. The president thanked the expatriates for their concern and support for Taiwan, and encouraged them to work with the government to bring Taiwan and Latin America closer together so that Taiwan can participate in the development and growth of the Mercosur region.
In remarks, President Tsai said she was delighted to visit Paraguay once again, which is farther away from Taiwan than any of our other allies. During the inauguration earlier that day, she said, heads and deputy heads of state often began their conversations by asking each other how long their flights to Paraguay were. After everyone compared notes, they found that the flight from Taiwan to Paraguay was the longest, with our delegation taking a whole day to get there. To meet with fellow Taiwanese so far from home, she said, was truly heart-warming and delightful.
President Tsai said she knew that in addition to people from Asunción on hand, others had driven hours to get there from Ciudad del Este. Many also came from even more distant places like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and even Mexico, she said, and she was delighted that so many expatriates spent so much time to come and greet her. She recalled that on her last visit to Paraguay, she also met with Taiwan's hard-working, dedicated expatriates abroad on that same spot. President Tsai then thanked everyone for coming to the banquet, and their love and support for Taiwan while abroad.
President Tsai said that every time she visits a foreign country, she always looks forward to meeting Taiwanese abroad at expatriate banquets. Though our expatriates may spend many years living and working far from home, she said, they always keep Taiwan close to their hearts, and getting together with them feels like one big family. So that evening, she said, was another reunion of the Taiwanese extended family in Latin America, and she thanked everyone for coming so far to be there.
President Tsai said that Paraguay was an important stop on her current trip. In addition to attending the inauguration of President Mario Abdo Benítez, she also took the opportunity to thank outgoing President Horacio Cartes for his support for Taiwan. Over the past few years, she said, Taiwan-Paraguay relations have grown increasingly close, thanks in no small part to the concerted efforts of Taiwan's expatriates. Taiwan and Paraguay instituted reciprocal visa-free courtesies last year, an important step in spurring bilateral exchanges. The Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Paraguay also went into effect early this year, and Taiwan has continued to increase the import quota for Paraguayan beef. Paraguayan beef, she said, has become very popular in the Taiwan market.
President Tsai said that Taiwan has limited diplomatic space, but with our prowess in agriculture, science and technology, and medical care, we can pursue a uniquely Taiwanese diplomatic strategy and contribute to the world. Over the past few years, Taiwan has helped Paraguay promote projects to breed and cultivate pacu fingerlings, cultivate orchids, and manage health information, making excellent progress. These projects are helping Paraguay's development, and giving Taiwan's technical talent a broader vision. Over the past two years, she said, we have been using this kind of win-win thinking to promote Taiwan's "steadfast diplomacy" policy.
Commenting on the young Taiwanese soccer player Lin Yu Wei (林育葦), who is pursuing a career in Paraguay, President Tsai noted that the attendees might have noticed a building designed to look like a soccer ball on their way to the banquet. This shows just how passionate the people of Paraguay are about soccer. With that same passion, Mr. Lin came to Paraguay by himself to chase his "soccer dream," she said, and there must have been many difficulties along the way that only he knows about. But Paraguayans are warm and friendly, and his coach and teammates treat him like family, caring for him and helping him train. Mr. Lin thus personifies the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay. The president said she looks forward to the day when Mr. Lin performs on a much bigger stage, perhaps even the next World Cup.
President Tsai said that Taiwan continues to pursue its own dreams of soccer success, while Paraguay is already a world-class soccer powerhouse. So Taiwan can learn a lot from Paraguay, and we will continue to encourage bilateral player exchanges. And now that Mr. Lin has blazed a trail, said the president, more people will surely follow in his footsteps. The ideals of our young people are Taiwan's ideals, she said. We must support more young people like Mr. Lin as they seek to make lives for themselves in Latin America and around the world, said the president. President Tsai encouraged all the expatriates on hand to help Taiwanese youth seek opportunities.
President Tsai then pointed out that opportunities abound throughout Latin America, and that everyone is very aware of its potential. So Taiwan will continue to enhance diplomatic ties with Paraguay, and use Paraguay as an important gateway to build a stronger presence throughout Latin America. All the expatriates on hand, she said, are spokespersons for Taiwan in Latin America. So she called on them to work with the government to bring Taiwan and Latin America closer together so that Taiwan can participate in the development and growth of the Mercosur region.
President Tsai emphasized that no matter how great the challenges, or how numerous the difficulties, Taiwan will continue to engage with the world. She then said she hopes that everyone there would join hands, and offer mutual encouragement. That evening's banquet, she said, was her delegation's last event in Paraguay, and the next day they would be heading to Belize to continue Taiwan's diplomatic efforts. It was truly a pleasure, she said, to get together with all the Taiwan expatriates for the banquet, see some lively performances, and cheer each other on.
Following President Tsai's remarks, Chinese Association in Asunción Chairman Hong Zhen-sheng (洪振盛), representing Paraguay's expatriate community, presented President Tsai with a commemorative gift. Soccer player Lin Yu Wei then gave the president a soccer jersey from the Cerro Porteño soccer club where he plays. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity, the president had invited all the Taiwan Scholarship recipients to attend the banquet, and personally presented them with certificates and posed for a group photo.
Banquet attendees included: National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維); Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮); Minister Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興) of the Overseas Community Affairs Council; Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮); Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Mei-Hua Wang (王美花); Deputy Minister of the Council of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲); Legislators Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Lee Chun-Yi (李俊俋), Chen Yi-Chieh (陳怡潔), and Tsai Shih-Ying (蔡適應); President Kico Lin (林貴香) of the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce; I-Mei Foods Co. Chairman Henry Kao (高志尚); Chairman Lin Wen-yuan (林文淵) of the Overseas Investment & Development Corp.; President Huang Yu-cheng (黃育徵) of Taiwan Sugar Corporation; President Liao Ching-Jong (廖慶榮) of the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology; and ROC Ambassador to Paraguay Diego L. Chou (周麟).