On the evening of March 25, President Tsai Ing-wen's "Oceans of Democracy" series of state visits continued with a state banquet hosted by Nauru President Baron Waqa.
President Tsai arrived to find President Waqa and his wife waiting to welcome her at the banquet entrance, and they posed together for a photo before a vegetable map of Taiwan and Nauru. The state banquet then began with a clergy-led prayer, followed by the playing of both countries' national anthems.
President Tsai began her remarks by recounting the full schedule the delegation had that day, and then thanked President Waqa and our Nauruan friends for the thoughtful arrangements that made it all possible. She also thanked President Waqa personally for his warm hospitality that evening.
President Tsai then recalled that, back in January of this year at a press conference during President Waqa's visit to Taiwan, His Excellency sang the song You Are My Best Friend while playing a ukulele made in Taiwan. The people of Taiwan took the song's message of friendship to heart, and were quite moved and grateful. She also chimed in to say to our friends in Nauru: You are my best friend!
The president then shared that she believes good friends should get together often, and she heard that a performance group from the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts has become very popular in Nauru, attracting large crowds to their performances over the past year.
She then pointed out that since the beginning of this year, Taiwan and Nauru have had close exchanges every month, from participating in weightlifting competitions to celebrating Nauru's independence. She also added that Taiwan's Technical Mission here works day in and day out with friends in Nauru, and that this cooperation has achieved many important successes. She hopes that the friendship between Taiwan and Nauru continues to blossom and deepen, she said, and this is why she decided she simply had to visit Nauru.
President Tsai also shared that she brought with her seedlings from Taiwan's unique moth orchids. Taiwan is a world-renowned "orchid kingdom," she said, and the vibrant moth orchid is a famous species. She then reiterated her hope that bilateral relations will be resilient and beautiful like these orchids, and that together, we will produce outstanding achievements.
The president also noted that distance has never been a problem, citing as an example what had transpired that very afternoon when she and President Waqa witnessed the Taiwan Technical Mission leader Lee Yi-long's (李宜龍) proposal to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Section Chief Huang Mei-chun (黃美君). Like the love that binds this young couple, the president said, the Taiwan-Nauru friendship will remain close and enduring.
President Tsai also said that, throughout the day, many of the friends who welcomed her so warmly were in fact "Tairuans"—Nauruans who have spent time in Taiwan. To her, this combination of "Taiwan" and "Nauruans" symbolizes the close connection between our two countries and peoples.
President Waqa, she recalled, once said to her that Taiwan and Nauru are like family, providing mutual support and moving into the future together. We welcome more friends from Nauru to visit Taiwan, get to know more about Taiwan, and become "Tairuans."
President Tsai then concluded her remarks by congratulating Nauru on its 50th anniversary of independence, and looked forward to the next 50 years of enduring Taiwan-Nauru friendship that will only get better with age. She thanked President Waqa once again for his warm hospitality, and invited everyone to join her in a toast to wish Taiwan and Nauru peace, prosperity, and an enduring friendship.
Among those in attendance from Nauru were Speaker of Parliament Cyril Buraman and his wife, Chief Justice Filimone Jitoko, and Nauru Ambassador to the ROC Chitra Jeremiah and her husband. Representing Taiwan were Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), other delegation members, and Ambassador to Nauru Chow Chin-fa (周進發).
Earlier that day, the two presidents visited the monument commemorating the Boe Declaration, and served as witnesses to the signing of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Government of the Republic of Nauru on Coast Guard Cooperation between Taiwan's Ocean Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chen Guo-en (陳國恩) and Nauru Police Commissioner Corey Caleb. Deputy Minister Chen also presented a miniature model of a patrol cutter as a gift. Afterwards, Nauru Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Aroi spoke on the origin of the monument, and President Waqa took President Tsai on a tour of the monument and the hand prints left by leaders that signed the declaration.
The monument stands in Western Bay, where the Boe Declaration was signed by leaders participating in the 49th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Hosted in 2018 by Nauru, the forum drew attention to issues surrounding the survival of Pacific island nations in the face of climate change, and called on all actors in the region and around the world to jointly confront and respond to this challenge.