While meeting with permanent representatives to the United Nations (UN) from Taiwan's diplomatic allies on the morning of February 18, President Tsai Ing-wen thanked our diplomatic allies for speaking up for Taiwan at important events. She emphasized that Taiwan is on the frontline in dealing with the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and should not be excluded from the global epidemic prevention network. We have an advanced and comprehensive healthcare system, she said, as well as tremendous professional expertise stemming from our experience in dealing with SARS. The president mentioned that on the morning of same day, the first group of Taiwanese nationals repatriated from Wuhan, China completed their quarantine and returned home, and they are all in good health. Taiwan's experience is worth sharing with the world, she said. The president also stated that supporting Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) would help ensure that we bring the epidemic under control in a much faster and more efficient manner.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
In July last year, when I made a transit stop in New York during my trip to Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, I met with Ambassador Lois Michele Young and Ambassador Patrick Saint-Hilaire at a reception held at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York. It is a great pleasure to see both of you again. Welcome to Taiwan!
I would like to especially thank Ambassador Young for her tireless efforts at the UN to bring together all of our diplomatic allies to jointly voice support for Taiwan. Meanwhile, I understand that Ambassador Luis António Lam Padilla and Ambassador Saint-Hilaire are visiting Taiwan for the first time. I am sure this trip will further deepen your understanding of our country.
Belize, Guatemala, and Haiti are staunch allies of Taiwan that have given us tremendous support. Immediately after the results of Taiwan's presidential election were announced last month, I received congratulatory messages from your heads of state. I kindly ask you to convey my sincere appreciation and best regards to them.
In the past few years, Taiwan has conducted numerous cooperation projects with diplomatic allies based on our steadfast diplomacy of mutual assistance for mutual benefits. I have witnessed the excellent outcomes of these projects during my visits to diplomatic allies. For example, Taiwan Street in Belize left a deep impression on me. We look forward to even more tourism cooperation in the years ahead.
Taiwan's collaboration with Guatemala covers many different areas, and our exchanges in the field of agricultural technology are particularly noteworthy. In Haiti last year, I personally presided over the opening ceremony of the Taiwan Product Exhibition. I was delighted to see such a variety of Taiwanese products being put to good use there.
Our diplomatic allies have always served as the most critical channel for Taiwan to connect with the wider world. In light of China's persistent efforts to suppress Taiwan's international participation in different ways over the past few years, we are grateful that our diplomatic allies have spoken up for Taiwan at important events, allowing the world to clearly hear Taiwan's voice.
For instance, at the UN General Debate last year, the representatives of Belize, Guatemala, and Haiti stood up and expressed strong support for our country. On behalf of all the people of Taiwan, I would like to extend our most heartfelt appreciation to you.
Like all countries around the world, Taiwan is now confronted with the threat posed by COVID-19. However, the WHO still excludes Taiwan due to political factors.
Political issues should never override the right to health. Epidemic prevention is a worldwide endeavor, and there should be no gaps in the global epidemic prevention network. Taiwan is on the frontline in dealing with the current outbreak and should not be excluded from that network. We have an advanced and comprehensive healthcare system, as well as tremendous professional expertise stemming from our experience in dealing with SARS.
Just this morning, the first group of Taiwanese nationals repatriated from Wuhan, China completed their quarantine and returned home. We are happy to report that they are all in good health, and we will continue to follow up with them and encourage them to take care of their personal health.
Disease prevention is like a battle. The government and people must work together. I want to thank them for cooperating fully with us to successfully overcome this challenge, and I believe Taiwan's experience is worth sharing with the world.
Taiwan's participation in WHO would help ensure that we bring the epidemic under control in a much faster and more efficient manner. Taiwan will keep working toward this goal. It is therefore our hope that our diplomatic allies will continue to voice support for Taiwan and endorse our involvement.
In closing, I wish you a fruitful stay and look forward to more and closer exchanges in the future! Thank you.
The delegation of permanent representatives to the UN included Ambassador Lois Michele Young from Belize, Ambassador Luis António Lam Padilla from Guatemala, and Ambassador Patrick Saint-Hilaire from Haiti and Mrs. Saint-Hilaire.