President Tsai Ing-wen will lead a delegation from July 11 to 22 on state visits to Taiwan's Caribbean allies Haiti, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia. On the morning of July 9 the Office of the President called a press conference to showcase the gifts that President Tsai will present during the trip, with Director-General Chang Wen-lan (張文蘭) of the Presidential Office's Department of Public Affairs describing the gifts and their significance.
Noting that the theme of this trip is "Journey of Freedom, Democracy, and Sustainability," Director-General Chang said the gifts to be presented to our allies' heads of state tie in with these themes, and were selected to highlight sustainable development and the originality of Taiwanese art. To Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, President Tsai will present "Bursting Into Bloom," a work by Etan Pavavalung using the "trace, layer, carve, and paint" art form. After Typhoon Morakot devastated the artist's hometown of Davalan Village (Sandimen Township, Pingtung County) in 2009, he started creating works of art in this style. In "Bursting Into Bloom," the artist uses vein patterns from plants and circular forms to express the connection between humankind and nature. This work reflects the trip theme, as well as the commitment to sustainable development shared by President Tsai and President Moïse.
Director-General Chang then said that President Tsai will give Governor-General Tapley Seaton of St. Christopher and Nevis a brilliantly colored "Ceramic Vase with Formosan Black Bear" highlighted with gold inlay. The Formosan black bear featured on the vase is the only type of bear native to Taiwan and a protected species. This piece seeks to share the importance of sustainable development and respect for life with Governor-General Seaton through the beauty of the Formosan black bear. The vase was created at the Anta Pottery kiln in the town of Yingge, Taiwan's ceramics capital.
President Tsai will present Prime Minister Timothy Harris of St. Christopher and Nevis with a finely crafted piece of red lacquerware entitled "Bodhicitta" ("the enlightened mind"). The green leaves on this piece symbolize sweet potato leaves that fall to the ground and take root, and the resilient spirit of Taiwanese. The golden leaves of the Bodhi tree speak to the industriousness of Taiwanese as they work to create things of beauty and value. This piece was executed by the master craftsman Mr. Lu Guan-zhong (盧關中). The main colors of the work and the national flag of St. Christopher and Nevis are the same—red, gold, and green—and serve as a wish for that nation's prosperity.
Director-General Chang stated that this trip will be the first time that an ROC head of state has ever visited Nevis Island. The gift selected for Mark Brantley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for St. Christopher and Nevis, is called "Paiwan Tribe—Brave Warrior," the work of Nitjan Takivalit of the Puwalu atelier in his native Sandimen Township, Pingtung County. The brave warrior is depicted holding a spear and shield to defend the tribe, the epitome of courage and protection. Foreign Minister Brantley serves concurrently as the Premier of the Nevis Island Administration, and like the Paiwan warrior, he protects Nevis Island. So this gift salutes the foreign minister, and expresses the idea that the Taiwan government hopes to join hands with the government of St. Christopher and Nevis to protect our firm friendship.
The gift selected for St. Vincent and the Grenadines Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne is a "Ceramic Vase with Formosan Rock Macaque." The Formosan rock macaque is unique to Taiwan, and was once classified as a protected species. The vivid and lifelike depiction of Formosan rock macaques is designed to remind Governor-General Ballantyne of Taiwan's tremendous biodiversity. This vase was also created at the Anta Pottery kiln.
Director-General Chang then noted that Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be given "Mother Earth," another work executed by Etan Pavavalung in the "trace, layer, carve, and paint" style. The piece uses leafy veins and an ocean wave pattern to represent points and lines. "Sunray patterns" appear to represent the Paiwan nobility, while interlocking loops represent many different ethnicities all co-existing on the same land. This work seeks to express the idea of co-existence between humankind and nature, as well as a shared sustainability, co-existence, and well-being that Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are working together to achieve.
Director-General Chang then said that St. Lucia's Governor-General Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac will be presented with "Protective Hand," created at the 1300 Only Porcelain atelier. The piece resembles an upright hand, an allusion to the way Governor-General Cenac holds the security of the nation in the palm of his hand. This year marks the 40th anniversary of St. Lucia's independence, and this work of art will be used to celebrate the anniversary together with Governor-General Cenac, and deepen the two countries' diplomatic relationship.
Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet will be given "Pride in Stride—Taiwan Water Buffalo," a ceramic piece executed by the famous artist Li Kuo-chin (李國欽). Taiwan and St. Lucia have achieved tremendous success through their close cooperation in agriculture and other fields, and this water buffalo symbolizes the methodic and industrious way the people of Taiwan and St. Lucia strive forward. The buffalo also stands as a symbol of the firm friendship between the two countries.
After Director-General Chang concluded her remarks, Lu Guan-zhong (the artist who executed "Bodhicitta") and Li Kuo-chin (who created "Pride in Stride—Taiwan Water Buffalo") took the microphone to explain the thought processes behind their creations, and what they learned in the course of their work.