On the morning of July 17 local time (evening of July 17 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen concluded her visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and departed for St. Lucia on her Journey of Freedom, Democracy, and Sustainability. After a half-hour flight, she arrived with her delegation at Hewanorra International Airport in St. Lucia.
After the president's chartered plane came to a halt, ROC Ambassador to St. Lucia Shen Cheng-Tsung (沈正宗) and St. Lucia Chief of Protocol at the Department of External Affairs Bernadette George-Marshall boarded the plane to welcome her. Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet then welcomed her at the bottom of the airstair. After shaking hands and exchanging greetings, President Tsai received flowers from the Minister with responsibility for External Affairs Sarah Flood-Beaubrun. Accompanied by Prime Minister Chastanet, she then ascended a dais and received a military salute by an honor guard.
After the performance of the two countries' national anthems, President Tsai reviewed the police honor guard, and proceeded to the reviewing area for mutual introductions. The president then met with Prime Minister Chastanet at the state protocol lounge to exchange views on issues of mutual concern.
After the airport welcoming ceremony, President Tsai and her delegation headed to St. Jude Hospital, where she attended the hospital's reconstruction project launch ceremony. After listening to a briefing from Minister for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation Guy Joseph, President Tsai delivered remarks.
Following is a translation of the president's remarks:
Exchanges between Taiwan and Saint Lucia have grown even closer over the past two years, as Prime Minister Chastanet has visited Taiwan three times. And today, I am delighted to be visiting Saint Lucia for the first time at the invitation of the Prime Minister.
Since we resumed diplomatic relations in 2007, Saint Lucia has been a staunch ally in the Caribbean. Over these past years, Taiwan and Saint Lucia have launched many important cooperation projects with the support of Prime Minister Chastanet. Health care has been an area of particular note. Changhua Christian Hospital and St. Jude Hospital have become sister hospitals. We have maintained frequent and meaningful exchanges of medical technology and health care personnel over the years.
Taiwan's medical teams are often lauded for the work they do, and on my state visits, I often make a point of visiting hospitals to learn about the results of our medical programs. This is because Taiwan's soft power in health care and medicine is renowned internationally. Through exchanges and mutual assistance programs with our diplomatic allies, we can truly help those in need. I believe that this is really putting into practice the spirit of our policy of steadfast diplomacy and mutual assistance for mutual benefits.
St. Jude Hospital suffered from an unfortunate fire in 2009. Aside from expressing our sympathies, we have long hoped to support the hospital's renovation, as this would improve health care quality. Since taking office, Prime Minister Chastanet has pushed hard for improvements to St. Jude Hospital. Through the combined efforts of both of our governments and public-private partnership, we can finally begin to realize the dreams that the people of Saint Lucia have looked forward to for such a long time.
So I find it especially meaningful to be participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for St. Jude Hospital's renovation. I am delighted to be able to witness this important moment alongside distinguished guests and the people of Saint Lucia today.
This redevelopment will not only improve health care quality for people in the south of Saint Lucia, but also contribute toward the UN SDGs of ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages. I am confident that once construction is complete, Saint Lucia's overall health care system will be further strengthened.
In recent years, Taiwan and Saint Lucia have engaged in many important cooperative initiatives in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture, ICT, and education, yielding positive results. I hope that through these kinds of cooperation projects, we can benefit the people of both our nations. This is the most important goal of my Journey of Freedom, Democracy, and Sustainability.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Chastanet offered a warm welcome to President Tsai and her delegation. He also mentioned that over the past three years, Taiwan and St. Lucia have deepened mutual cooperation. Taiwan is a special friend, and the two countries share values like democracy and freedom. The original St. Jude Hospital was damaged by fire ten years ago. The prime minister offered a special thanks to Taiwan for its support and assistance for the reconstruction of the hospital. He also expressed hope that after the reconstruction is completed, the hospital will provide fully equipped medical services for the people of St. Lucia.
President Tsai, Prime Minister Chastanet, and Minister Joseph then took spades in hand for the groundbreaking, took a group picture, and expressed good wishes for a smooth and successful reconstruction of the hospital.