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Vice President Lai delivers remarks before departing for Honduras
Vice President Lai delivers remarks before departing for Honduras

On the morning of January 25, Vice President Lai Ching-te delivered remarks before departing for the Republic of Honduras to attend the inauguration of Honduran President Xiomara Castro. The vice president said that he would convey our people and government's strong support for the new Honduran administration, and would also engage with the heads and deputy heads of state as well as the delegations of other allies and like-minded countries in attendance as a means of strengthening Taiwan's international presence. The vice president will also represent President Tsai Ing-wen in sending greetings and encouragement to members of our overseas communities as well as our businesspeople and diplomats, thanking them for all they do to help Taiwan connect with the world.

A translation of the vice president's remarks follows:

Today, I will take up the role of President Tsai Ing-wen's special envoy and travel to Honduras to represent the Republic of China (Taiwan) at the inauguration of President Xiomara Castro, Honduras' first woman president.

This is my first trip abroad since my inauguration as vice president. Though the pandemic remains severe, it is my honor and duty to serve my country. My flight will depart shortly, and I want to thank you all for sending us off. We will bear with us the hopes and expectations of President Tsai Ing-wen as we transit through the United States, and will convey the best wishes of the Taiwanese people to President Castro and the people of Honduras.

Honduras is an important ally of Taiwan in Central America. Just last year, our countries celebrated 80 years of bilateral diplomatic ties, and we have come to each other's aid in difficult times when we faced threats or enticement, forming a close friendship. On this occasion, we will not be deterred by the pandemic in visiting Honduras to offer our best wishes, which reflects the importance Taiwan places on our partnership as well as Taiwan's support for Honduras.

In fact, Taiwan has provided a range of assistance to Honduras since the start of COVID-19, and we are committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Honduran government and people in fighting the pandemic. On this trip, we will bring a variety of Taiwan-made disease prevention equipment to give to the people of Honduras, taking concrete action to demonstrate our strong support for the Taiwan-Honduras alliance and the new Honduran administration on the first day of President Castro's term.

We are sincerely grateful to Honduras for speaking up for Taiwan on the international stage, and for supporting Taiwan's participation in the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), helping expand our international space. Taiwan has also provided Honduras with a range of post-disaster reconstruction assistance, and has conducted cooperative programs in agriculture and livestock, healthcare, and academic scholarships, with impressive results. Not only that, bilateral trade between our countries continues to grow year-on-year.

Last November, in an election with record voter turnout of 68 percent, then-Presidential candidate Castro and her three vice-presidential candidates won a 51-percent majority of the vote, making her Honduras' first woman president and demonstrating the Honduran people's expectations for their new administration. As President Castro gets to work on promoting her new policy agenda, Taiwan will uphold the spirit of steadfast diplomacy and mutual assistance for mutual benefit as we strengthen our cooperation with Honduras, overcome the challenges we face, and advance the well-being of both our peoples.

During this trip, I will meet with President Castro, and will have exchanges with the heads and deputy heads of state as well as the delegations of our other diplomatic allies and friendly nations, showing the world that Taiwan has built a democratic system of good governance, and that we will gladly take on greater responsibility for maintaining regional and global order. We want to show the international community that Taiwan is a trustworthy friend and is capable of helping people across the globe, thereby expanding our international space.

Of course, on this trip, I will also offer my greetings and encouragement to members of our overseas community as well as our businesspeople and diplomats on behalf of President Tsai, and will thank them for all they have done for Taiwan. Thanks to their hard work, Taiwan has more opportunities to connect with the world.

Though this trip to Honduras will take us far from home, and though the pandemic remains severe, we will give our all to accomplish our mission and live up to the expectations of President Tsai and the people of Taiwan, and will take all necessary disease prevention measures. With COVID-19 affecting Taiwan, I urge all my fellow Taiwanese both at home and abroad to cooperate with the government to fight the pandemic. We must all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Lastly, I want to wish you and Taiwan all the best. Thank you.

Among those at the airport to see the vice president off were Secretary-General to the President David T. Lee (李大維), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Ambassador of Palau and acting head of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil, Ambassador of Guatemala and secretary-general of the foreign diplomatic corps Willy Alberto Gómez Tirado, and Ambassador of Honduras Eny Yamileth Bautista Guevara.

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