President Tsai Ing-wen met with British Office Taipei Representative John Dennis on the morning of January 19, and welcomed him on behalf of the people of Taiwan. She expressed hope for Taiwan and the UK to begin negotiations on a free trade or bilateral investment agreement, while also pursuing a closer bilateral partnership across a wide range of areas.
A translation of the president's remarks follows:
It is a pleasure to meet you, Representative Dennis. You have had a busy schedule since taking up your new post just last month. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I would like to welcome you to our country, and to thank you for the enthusiasm you have shown in coming back to Taiwan.
I understand that you first came here about 40 years ago, when Taiwan was starting its transition to democracy. I am sure your time here left you with a sense of Taiwan's developing democratic and social movements and rapid economic growth. I am confident that your packed itinerary since your return has let you appreciate how much progress Taiwanese society has made in the last 40 years.
2021 is a critical year for both Taiwan and the UK. Having officially left the European Union, the UK's future development, especially its political and economic outlook in the Indo-Pacific, has become a focus of international attention. Meanwhile, Taiwan is facing the key challenges of an evolving global pandemic and structural economic transformation, as we continue our efforts to make an impact on the global stage.
The UK has long been a favorite destination for Taiwanese students, while our Taiwan-Europe Connectivity Scholarship program for the UK has been well received by universities in both Taiwan and the UK. In addition to expanding students' perspectives, studying abroad promotes greater understanding between people of different countries.
In addition, to promote our Bilingual Nation policy, we have actively consulted with the British Office Taipei about more intensive online and offline language classes. We hope to cultivate even more bilingual talent to boost the international competitiveness of our younger generation.
In business and investment, the past few years have seen Taiwan and the UK continue to expand our collaboration in key sectors such as finance and wind energy, with our bilateral trade growing in turn. I hope we can follow up on this progress by beginning negotiations on a free trade or bilateral investment agreement.
Just a few days ago, I saw what Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had to say about human rights and trade. I believe that Taiwan and the UK stand together when it comes to democracy, human rights, and free trade, and I hope we can develop a deeper and broader partnership in the future.
During this pandemic, Taiwan and the UK have collaborated extensively on donations of supplies and vaccine purchases. Our mutual assistance throughout the pandemic is a testament to the strength of our bond. We are determined to continue working with the UK to fight and end the spread of COVID-19 around the globe.
Lastly, I want to congratulate you once again on taking up this post. I hope we can work together over the coming years to advance our bilateral relationship and engage in substantive dialogues on even more issues. I wish you a successful and pleasant time in Taiwan.