On the morning of September 11, President Tsai Ing-wen greeted a delegation led by Mr. Michel Herbillon, a member of the French National Assembly's France-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group. She explained that Taiwan-France exchanges are increasing across the board, including at the central and local government levels, as well as through people-to-people ties. She said she looks forward to encouraging even more exchanges and cooperation through reciprocal visits between high-level officials.
In remarks, President Tsai noted that about a month ago, Taiwan and France set a new precedent in parliamentary diplomacy when Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) visited France, becoming the first president of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan to enter the French National Assembly building.
President Tsai emphasized that Legislative Yuan President Su's visit was a historic moment, and also reflected a relationship between Taiwan and France that is close and continuously being upgraded thanks to shared values like democracy and freedom. We believe, she said, that visiting dignitaries and reciprocal visits by high-level officials will encourage even more exchanges and cooperation.
The president pointed out that over the last two-plus years, legislators from Taiwan's ruling and opposition camps and central government ministers have all visited France. Delegations from city governments (including Kaohsiung, Taoyuan, and Taichung) have also visited France on municipal fact-finding missions to observe green transportation infrastructure and public housing, and promote Taiwan's machinery and aerospace industries.
President Tsai noted that the Taiwan-France partnership is continually being upgraded. Economic and trade ties are growing, with the total value of bilateral trade rising 24% last year. Personnel exchanges have also increased as a result of the joint promotion of a working holiday program for young people. Cooperation in the education sector also saw the first Taiwan-France University Presidents Forum, held in Kaohsiung last year.
The president also said that Taiwan-France exchanges are increasing across the board, including at the central and local government levels, as well as through people-to-people ties. At the same time, the two sides have continually sought opportunities for cooperation in various fields. Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology and the French Office in Taipei, for example, have agreed to cooperate in promoting start-up exchanges so that start-up teams from both countries can visit and learn from each other to jointly incubate start-up companies.
President Tsai said that's how Taiwan and France can gradually build up mutual assistance efforts to promote development. Given that most of the guests were visiting Taiwan for the first time, she also expressed hope that this trip will give them a deeper understanding of Taiwan to help both sides explore directions for future cooperation.
In closing, the president specially thanked the France-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group for supporting Taiwan. They have spoken up for Taiwan on many issues, including China's unilateral decision to use the M503 air route, and Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly.
In addition to Mr. Herbillon, Vice-President of the French National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), the delegation also included FAC Vice-President Jacques Maire; FAC members Jérôme Lambert and Didier Quentin; France-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Vice Chairman Eric Bothorel; and Éric Straumann, a member of the French National Assembly's Economic Affairs Committee.