President Tsai Ing-wen spoke with President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. of the Republic of Palau via video call on the morning of January 12. In addition to congratulating President-elect Whipps on his election victory, President Tsai expressed hope that Taiwan and Palau will continue to expand and deepen their partnership.
The Republic of Palau, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, held its presidential and legislative elections on November 3, 2020. Mr. Whipps was elected president with nearly 60% of the vote, and his inauguration is scheduled for January 21, 2021.
President Tsai first congratulated President-elect Whipps and Vice President-elect Uduch Senior, and expressed confidence that under their leadership, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Palau will continue to build on their close bilateral partnership.
President Tsai said she was deeply honored to be the sole foreign head of state invited to attend their inauguration, but that because of pressing matters of state, she will be unable to attend. Instead, she has asked Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) to lead a delegation to attend the inauguration, and hopes she can visit Palau in the near future.
President Tsai stated that Taiwan and Palau enjoy a deep-rooted alliance, with close cooperation in infrastructure, agricultural technology, medicine, clean energy, and education. Taiwan and Palau are also loyal friends, she said, and over the past few years, Palau has spoken up strongly for Taiwan on the international stage, its messages of support inspiring many Taiwanese. As the pandemic swept across the world, the people of Taiwan were glad to see that Palau took effective measures to contain the virus, as a result of which Palau has maintained an impressive record of zero cases.
President Tsai said she feels honored that Taiwan has been able to help fight the pandemic in Palau during this difficult period. She said she is proud that Taiwan has donated masks, testing equipment, and other materials, and has approved charter flights to bring patients to Taiwan. Taiwan's medical team in Palau has also been helpful with local pandemic prevention work.
President Tsai said she understands that the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Palau's economy, which relies heavily on tourism, and has seen social media opinion leaders encouraging Taiwanese to travel to Palau after the pandemic subsides as a way of strengthening bilateral ties. Any potential travel arrangements must follow pandemic prevention guidelines on both sides, and will undergo careful review to ensure the health and safety of the people of Taiwan and Palau, the president stated.
President Tsai said she believes the pandemic has highlighted the importance of international cooperation. Taiwan has developed a highly effective model for fighting COVID-19, and she is confident this model will ensure the health and welfare of the citizens of both countries. She said, "We will get through this pandemic together," and continue to diversify and deepen the bilateral partnership.
Finally, President Tsai again congratulated President-elect Whipps and Vice President-elect Senior, and expressed her wish that Palau will prosper under their leadership.
During their conversation, President-elect Whipps thanked President Tsai for her wishes and Taiwan for contributing to Palau's successful pandemic response by sending testing equipment and other materials under a bilateral medical cooperation arrangement. President-elect Whipps said he hopes to meet personally with President Tsai in the near future to continue discussions on deepening the Taiwan-Palau alliance.