On the morning of February 17, President Tsai Ing-wen visited Hualien Air Force Base accompanied by President Mario Abdo Benítez of the Republic of Paraguay. In remarks at the base, President Tsai stated that Taiwan wants to deepen cooperation with all like-minded countries to advance global security and regional peace and stability. She thanked President Abdo Benítez for his staunch support for Taiwan and expressed hope that Taiwan and Paraguay will continue to strengthen bilateral cooperation and contribute further to the global community and to the development of our countries.
After arriving at hangar three of Hualien Air Force Base, President Tsai and President Abdo Benítez listened to a briefing on a weapons display area and took a tour of an exhibit on F-16V fighter jets. President Tsai presented President Abdo Benítez with an Air Force Fifth Composite Tactical Wing flight jacket, cap, and parachute cord, while President Abdo Benítez presented President Tsai with a Paraguayan flight jacket.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
When President Abdo Benítez visited Taiwan four years ago, I invited him to Taoyuan to witness an air-ground joint military exercise. Today we have come to Hualien Air Force Base to witness another display of our military's solid defensive combat capabilities.
In recent years we have promoted self-sufficiency in national defense and increased investment in upgrading our asymmetric warfare capabilities. We also put forward a military force realignment plan which reinstates a one-year term of mandatory military service and enhances training content and capacity. We have taken these actions to further bolster Taiwan's defense capabilities.
We want to deepen our cooperation with all like-minded countries to advance global security and regional peace and stability.
As the global pandemic continues to subside, Taiwan and Paraguay, as well as other democratic allies around the world, will engage in closer cooperation. One such example is our Ministry of National Defense training course for high-ranking officials from diplomatic allies, which is set to recommence this year. We hope that Paraguay and our other diplomatic allies will participate in this program, so that we can share our experiences with one another and further our cooperation.
I want to thank President Abdo Benítez again for his staunch support for Taiwan. May Taiwan and Paraguay continue to strengthen our cooperation, and contribute further to the global community and to the development of our countries.
President Abdo Benítez then delivered remarks, saying that he is honored to visit the Hualien Air Force Base and witness the results of Taiwan's efforts in recent years to enhance national defense. He said that visiting the base put him in high spirits, as it brought back memories of his time serving in his country's air force.
President Abdo Benítez pointed out the importance of Hualien to the national defense of the Republic of China (Taiwan). He said that the primary duty of the base's personnel is to defend the democracy and freedom of the nation, which for those serving in the military is the most honorable mission, a mission that also represents sacrifice and devotion. The president then expressed his highest respect for their selfless efforts.
President Abdo Benítez stated that Paraguay and Taiwan have been in close cooperation on national defense over the past few years, with our countries conducting military school student exchanges and Paraguay's military having opportunities to engage in the highest level of training with Taiwan's military. Such cooperation, he said, is held in high regard, adding that he looks forward to further strengthening our military ties.
President Abdo Benítez also stated that Paraguay is a country that respects freedom and peace, and that their diplomatic tradition is to resolve disputes through dialogue and negotiation and to strictly abide by United Nations and international principles. He noted that Taiwan, a peace-loving nation, hopes that, like countries around the world, its national sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected.
President Abdo Benítez reiterated that Paraguay staunchly supports the Taiwanese people's right to choose their own path, and sincerely hopes that this beautiful island can forever live in peace. He also expressed thanks for this opportunity to familiarize himself with Taiwan's efforts to safeguard national security, deter aggression, and maintain peace.
Paraguay Ambassador Carlos Fleitas was also in attendance at the airbase.