On the evening of December 29 (Sunday), Vice President Chen Chien-jen, accompanied by Mrs. Chen, attended a dinner banquet hosted by Palau Vice President Raynold Oilouch. In his remarks, Vice President Chen emphasized the "people-centered" values of freedom and democracy that Taiwan and Palau have embraced.
A translation of Vice President Chen's remarks follows:
Ungil Kebesengei! ("Good evening!" in Palauan) I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Palau Vice President Oilouch and our other friends from Palau for your gracious hospitality.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Palau, and I am honored to personally visit this beautiful country as President Tsai Ing-wen's special envoy and see the sparkling blue ocean and friendly people for which Palau is so well known.
Taiwan and Palau are both maritime nations that rely on the sea—the great provider—for international trade and tourism, and for food. So here, I want to express my admiration for the Palauan government's efforts to preserve the marine environment. Two days from now, on January 1st of 2020, Palau will protect coral reefs by becoming the first country in the world to impose a widespread ban on the use of chemical sunscreen products.
The people of Palau have thus demonstrated a very strong determination to preserve the marine environment. So I am sure that when you host the Our Ocean Conference next year, in addition to exchanges with guests and experts from many different countries, you will definitely be commended by people from around the world. I trust that conference will be a great success. I also want to emphasize that Taiwan has taken concrete action to support Palau's efforts to protect marine resources. When President Tsai visited Palau this last March, for example, she signed a bilateral agreement on coast guard cooperation to promote exchanges in maritime law enforcement, and we are also conducting an Aquaculture Project to help restore fishing resources. These measures all highlight Taiwan's support for Palau.
Taiwan and Palau have more in common than just the sea. The people of Taiwan and Palau both uphold the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights, and "people-centered" thinking is a core concept that we both embrace. Taiwan's indigenous peoples and the people of Palau are all brothers and sisters. Someone told me that the word for "hello" in the Palauan language—Alii—means "friend" in the language of Taiwan's Paiwan tribe, which is quite touching. That's how close the relationship is between Taiwan and Palau—just like family. Indeed, the relationship between Taiwan and Palau is very close. This morning, my wife and I attended a mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where I prayed for the people of our two countries. I wish our people a happy life and an enduring partnership between Taiwan and Palau.
In closing, once again I want to thank Vice President Oilouch and our other Palauan friends for your warm hospitality. Let's all raise a toast to a lasting friendship between our two countries.
After concluding his remarks, Vice President Chen and Vice President Oilouch exchanged gifts. They both then expressed best wishes for an enduring friendship between Taiwan and Palau in an atmosphere of friendship and joy.
ROC Ambassador to Palau Wallace M.G. Chow (周民淦) also accompanied Vice President and Mrs. Chen at the banquet.