Vice President Chen Chien-jen, accompanied by Mrs. Chen, met with Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. on the afternoon of December 30. Vice President Chen thanked Palau for speaking up in support of Taiwan over the years at the United Nations and the World Health Assembly. He also expressed hope that Palau will continue to be a firm ally of Taiwan at international venues and that our two countries will join hands and make progress together in the Pacific Ocean.
After hosting the luncheon celebrating 20th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Palau, Vice President Chen visited President Remengesau in Meyungs and presented his credentials as President Tsai Ing-wen's special envoy to President Remengesau. The following is a translation of the vice president's remarks:
On behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen, I thank the government of Palau for the tremendous hospitality we have received during this visit. The 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations is a major milestone in the history of our bilateral ties. In addition to President Tsai's visit to Palau this past March, she has also designated our foreign minister, indigenous affairs minister, and myself as her envoys to lead respective delegations to visit Palau over the latter half of this year, so it is clear that our government highly values relations with Palau.
When President Tsai visited Palau this past March, she engaged in an extensive exchange of views with President Remengesau on our bilateral relations. During this trip, we are extremely pleased to personally witness the great progress that has been achieved in our bilateral cooperative projects over a period of just eight months. Together, Taiwan and Palau have accomplished many exciting new achievements.
In the area of people-to-people exchanges, the passenger load factor has risen considerably since China Airlines increased the number of direct flights from Taipei to Palau. The number of travelers arriving in Palau from Taiwan this year is up 34% from last year, and in the future we hope that more European, American, and Asian travelers will travel to Palau via this route. In addition, Taiwan, the United States, and Japan jointly held the International Austronesian Languages Revitalization Forum in Palau under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework this past September. The 2019 Executive Council Meeting of the Austronesian Forum was also held here in the same month. Both events were great successes. As a result, we have enhanced our shared bond of Austronesian culture, and friendships among our people have grown even closer.
We are also aware that Palau will host the 2020 Our Ocean Conference. When President Tsai visited Palau earlier this year, she stated that Taiwan would lend its full support to help Palau build a main venue. Our two sides have been in close contact on this project, and work is already underway. We look forward to a successful Conference and expect it will further consolidate Palau's status as an international pioneer in marine conservation.
Finally, I would like to thank President Remengesau once again for the many times he has spoken up in support of Taiwan over the years at the United Nations and the World Health Assembly. We sincerely hope that Palau will continue to be a firm ally of Taiwan at international venues and that our two countries will join hands and make progress together in the Pacific Ocean.
President Remengesau then delivered remarks, welcoming Vice President Chen to Palau as President Tsai's special envoy. He asked that Vice President Chen extend sincere appreciation to President Tsai and the Taiwanese people on his behalf. In the past, President Tsai and high-ranking Taiwanese government officials have visited Palau, helping our countries better understand each other. President Remengesau stated that Indo-Pacific strategy is very important to Palau, Taiwan, the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, and we should all keep working together on this front.
President Remengesau stated that Taiwanese tourists are very much appreciated in Palau because they are educated and willing to spend money, and Palau saw a 34% increase in Taiwanese visitors this year. The Palauan government is grateful to Taiwan for its medical assistance, he said, and Palauan people are enjoying healthier lives thanks to Shin Kong Hospital and E-Da Hospital.
President Remengesau further stated that he would be finishing out his term next year, and he expressed hope that President Tsai and Taiwan's ambassador to Palau would continue to partner with Palau to achieve the best results. The Our Ocean Conference will be held next year, and he thanked the Taiwanese government for their assistance in preparing for this event, as well as Taiwan's assistance in Palau's infrastructure projects.
President Remengesau pointed out that there are many more opportunities for collaboration between Taiwan and Palau, and he looked forward to the continued development of close bilateral ties. He expressed his belief that Taiwan and Palau are more than friends, we are family.
Shortly after, both sides exchanged gifts, and Vice President Chen presented President Remengesau with a "Golden Cube of Fulfillment" glassware piece created by Taiwan's own LIULI glassmakers. The goldfish represent the vitality and hardworking nature of Taiwanese and Palauan peoples as we work together for sustainable development. At this particularly profound moment in history, he continued, this gift represents the six facets of our cooperation over the past 20 years of diplomatic relations: agriculture, healthcare, education, environmental protection, tourism, and infrastructure.
Among those present at the meeting were Palau Minister of State Faustina Rehuher-Marugg, Ambassador to Taiwan Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil, Community & Cultural Affairs Minister Baklai Temengil, and ROC Ambassador to Palau Wallace M.G. Chow (周民淦).