On the evening of November 3, Vice President Lai Ching-te returned to Taiwan after the conclusion of his trip to Palau, and delivered remarks on his visit at Taoyuan International Airport. Vice President Lai said that his delegation to Palau included a range of professionals who each did their utmost to complete the group's work, garnering praise from President Surangel S. Whipps Jr. of Palau. Vice President Lai also noted that Taiwan and Palau can look forward to stronger connections and broader cooperation, and invited his fellow citizens to visit and support Palau so that we can bolster our alliance and deepen the mutual goodwill between our peoples.
A translation of the vice president's remarks follows:
Having been appointed by President Tsai Ing-wen to lead a delegation on this state visit to the Republic of Palau, an ally of Taiwan in the Pacific, I received a warm welcome from President Whipps and the Palauan people. This afternoon, we successfully concluded our three-day, two-night visit, and just now arrived back in Taiwan. I want to thank everyone who came out to meet us at the airport. At the same time, I want to take this special opportunity to report our safe return and to thank the people of Taiwan for their support.
My delegation included professionals from a range of fields. The first group was from Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, which has long represented Taiwan in carrying out medical diplomacy in Palau, and included Chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) and President Hou Sheng-Mao (侯勝茂) as well as a medical team from the hospital, which donated telemedicine instruments and equipment to Palau during the trip. The second group consisted of heads and representatives of national, county, and city-level travel associations as well as of several major domestic travel agencies, whose responsibility was to facilitate the revival of Palau's post-pandemic tourism sector.
The third group included experts, scholars, and businesspeople invited by President Whipps to assist Palau in developing its aquaculture and fisheries industries. The fourth group consisted of Chairman Huang Ssu-chieh (黃思傑) of the Taiwan International Baseball Interchange Development Association and well-known Taiwanese baseball stars Chen Yung-chi (陳鏞基) and Hu Chin-lung (胡金龍), who went to Palau to donate baseball equipment to the Palau Major League and engage in baseball diplomacy. The fifth group included internet opinion leaders and radio station heads, who will help promote Palau, as well as hardworking friends from the media who took part in the trip.
Because this delegation had professionals from many fields, we divided up our tasks, and everyone gave their utmost to complete their work. Our collective efforts garnered praise from President Whipps, who stated publicly that Taiwan had given Palau new hope while lauding the achievements of the trip. He openly proclaimed that our delegation had hit a "grand slam." When I presented President Whipps with the news reports, interviews, and other stories compiled overnight by my colleagues from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he excitedly said that it was not just a "grand slam," but a "grand slam plus one," showing how much he welcomed and appreciated this visit.
I am sure that this visit will help strengthen connections and broaden cooperation between Taiwan and Palau. We are all confident that President Whipps' goal of reviving Palau's tourism sector can be achieved step-by-step.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to introduce the Republic of Palau to my fellow citizens. Palau is a truly gorgeous country which is known internationally as a "pristine paradise." It has a wealth of natural scenic beauty, with vast and changing skies, uninterrupted horizons, and azure seas adorned with emerald-like islands.
The air in Palau is fresh and clean, with a comforting breeze to welcome you. You can't see any traffic lights, and Palau doesn't have trash cans, but it is immaculately clean. Palau's underwater scenery is widely praised, with jellyfish, coral, and giant clams, which, unlike the smaller clams found in Taiwan, are enormous and can live for over 100 years, a very rare thing to see in Taiwan and most other countries.
The seas surrounding Palau are exceptionally clear, and one can see schools of fish of all colors swimming about in its waters. The sharks are so friendly that they will swim with you – they won't bite you – making Palau a heaven for divers and giving it a well-deserved international reputation as "God's aquarium."
I want to emphasize to my fellow citizens that Palau is not just a beautiful place, but also a progressive country. Though it has a small population, Palau, as an island nation like Taiwan, is making every effort to protect its environment, preserve its natural ecology, and responsibly use ocean resources toward the goal of sustainable development.
Palau is also actively responding to climate change, with President Whipps having publicly announced that Palau will completely transition to using renewable energy by the year 2032.
The Republic of Palau, which grants full rights to its citizens at the age of 18, shares with Taiwan the values of democracy, freedom, and respect for human rights. Under the leadership of President Whipps, Palau stands resolutely on the second island chain, working together with fellow democracies to uphold peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and to prevent regrettable events like those of World War II from happening in Palau. This country is one of great resolve.
In addition, Taiwan's indigenous peoples and the people of Palau are especially closely connected as fellow speakers of Austronesian languages. So here, aside from introducing the details of Palau to my fellow countrymen, I want to welcome all my fellow citizens to make time to visit Palau, a country that is not only beautiful and progressive but is also a country of great resolve.
While the purpose of this trip was to fulfill the mission handed down to me by President Tsai Ing-wen, I was deeply moved to find that Palau is a country that deserves our visits and support, and I hope we can further bolster the alliance between Palau and Taiwan and deepen the mutual goodwill between our peoples.
Deputy Secretary-General to the President Alex Huang (黃重諺), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Andrea Bowman, and Palau Ambassador David Orrukem were all present at the airport to welcome the vice president upon his return.