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Vice President Lai holds reception in Paraguay for traveling press corps
Vice President Lai holds reception in Paraguay for traveling press corps

On the afternoon of August 15 local time (early morning of August 16 Taipei time), Vice President Lai Ching-te held a reception in Paraguay for the press corps traveling along with his delegation to attend the inauguration of President Santiago Peña Palacios. The vice president shared his thoughts on the trip and the results of his delegation's efforts to complete the objectives entrusted to him by President Tsai Ing-wen, specifically to strengthen the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay, to expand our bilateral collaboration, and to engage with leaders from other countries.

In remarks, Vice President Lai thanked all present for traveling the long distance with his delegation to Paraguay. He noted that after that night, the main event of their time in Paraguay will have been completed, and that they will soon be on their way back home, transiting through San Francisco, before landing in beautiful Taiwan. He then thanked everyone for their hard work. 

Responding to a question about which heads of state the delegation interacted with and their interactions, Vice President Lai said that President Tsai entrusted them with certain objectives for this trip, specifically to strengthen the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay, but more than that, to expand our bilateral collaboration and drive development and prosperity in both our countries. The vice president stated that Taiwan and Paraguay have a longstanding and close partnership, and that after arriving in Paraguay the day before, he had engaged in talks with then President Mario Abdo Benítez and President-elect Peña, noting how both the incoming and outgoing presidents reiterated that they would deepen relations between our countries and offered suggestions for future collaborative projects.

Vice President Lai then pointed out that during the inauguration ceremony, he interacted with the heads of state and representatives of various countries, including United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, King Felipe VI of Spain, President Luiz Lula da Silva of Brazil, President Alberto Fernández of Argentina, President Luis Lacalle Pou of Uruguay, President Gabriel Boric of Chile, and Vice President Félix Ulloa of El Salvador. The attendees all interacted freely and confidently at the ceremony, he said, and he took the opportunity to introduce himself as the vice president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), a democratic and free nation that emphasizes respect for human rights, that is dedicated to helping maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and that hopes to contribute to the international community. 

Asked if the preparations for this trip took into account factors like political pressure and military intimidation from China, Vice President Lai responded that his role on this trip was as the envoy of President Tsai, and that he was charged with going to Paraguay to offer congratulations and to convey the warm wishes of the people of Taiwan. His going on this trip was in the capacity of vice president, not as a presidential candidate, and his purpose was to fulfill his state duties and to ensure the best interests of our country, he said. The US government has also made it clear that there is a long precedent of making transit stops on these trips, he said, so they should not be used as a pretext for political and military intimidation. The vice president pointed out that there was good rapport and trust in the discussions between the Taiwan and US teams, and that their discussions proceeded smoothly. He added that he was very happy to be able to watch a live professional baseball game while transiting through the US, saying that it was a rare opportunity.

Responding to a question about the rumor related to the vice president's transit through the US that there is some skepticism surrounding Vice President Lai, the vice president said that this transit stop was handled properly and responsibly and that the Taiwan and US teams engaged in discussion with good rapport and trust, following the same principles of safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity as in previous transit stops. On the rumors of skepticism toward the US and toward himself, the vice president said that both come from Chinese propaganda meant to sow division in the Taiwan-US relationship and create misperceptions in Taiwan's society, and thereby influence next year's election. The vice president then said that there is no doubt about US support for Taiwan and the determination of the US to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. He also emphasized that he will continue to defend Taiwan's sovereignty, advance democracy, peace, and prosperity in Taiwan, and maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. This stance and these measures are in accord with the international community, he said.

Responding to a question about whether he has met or will meet with any important people or officials during his transit stops in the US, the vice president stated that his role on this trip was as the envoy of President Tsai charged with going to Paraguay to offer congratulations to its new president on his inauguration. As time was limited, he said he did not arrange for meetings with US government officials. 

Commenting on his exchanges with young Taiwanese-Americans in New York and with students of Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University (UPTP), which highlighted his concern for issues facing young people, Vice President Lai said that all national leaders have a responsibility to put together a 20- to 30-year vision for the youth, so he believes that it is imperative to hold discussions with young people to better understand their viewpoints. Pointing out that in New York, he met with young Taiwanese who had gone to the US to advance their careers in fields including quantum technology, biotech, language education, literature, the use of artificial intelligence in law, and social housing development, the vice president said that he had learned a lot from their conversation, and that Taiwan needs idealistic, ambitious, and highly skilled young people to return home to help spur our development and progress. 

Vice President Lai said that UPTP students are predominantly young Paraguayans who are very grateful to Taiwan and happy to be studying at UPTP, as they have gained much professional knowledge from their studies. This, he said, was very touching to him and made him think more deeply about how to continue strengthening the Taiwan-Paraguay partnership, so that through our young people, we can further deepen our bilateral relationship.

In response to a question about his interaction with US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at the presidential inauguration, Vice President Lai said that Secretary Haaland is polite, sincere, and considerate and that during their conversation she helped him adjust his pin. The vice president said that as a courtesy and to abide by international norms, he would not reveal what they spoke about.

Asked how he felt about his itinerary on this trip, the vice president responded by thanking our diplomatic staff, overseas community, and Taiwanese businesspeople operating abroad for all their contributions to Taiwan-Paraguay relations, which have made the strong partnership we enjoy today possible. He noted that President Peña made a point of emphasizing in his inaugural address that he would maintain Paraguay's cooperative relationship with Taiwan. The vice president also stated that during his meetings soon after arriving in Paraguay with outgoing President Abdo and incoming President Peña, both Paraguayan leaders reiterated their appreciation for Taiwan and affirmed their commitment to continue strengthening our diplomatic alliance.

Vice President Lai mentioned that, at a luncheon held by President Peña, an entrepreneur approached him to thank Taiwan for assisting in the development of Paraguay's orchid industry, while Gloria Alarcon, a recipient of seed funding through the women's empowerment project, also thanked Taiwan for helping her get back on her feet after the pandemic. He added that the government and people of Paraguay support their country's longstanding cooperation with Taiwan and that he felt moved by the fact that this was the result of the hard work of so many people.

The vice president said that we should continue to deepen our bilateral cooperation, especially as President Peña hopes to alleviate poverty through education, healthcare, and employment. In addition to our cooperation on UPTP, the vice president said that in healthcare, we are helping Paraguay to introduce information management systems in its public hospitals within the next year. He also remarked that going forward, we should work toward implementing smart healthcare services so that we can help achieve President Peña's policy goals. 

Noting that 100 percent of Paraguay's energy comes from renewable sources – mostly hydropower – allowing it to export energy to other countries, the vice president said that Taiwan is working toward transitioning to zero emissions by 2050 and that in order to do so, we need to continue promoting renewable energy. He expressed confidence that Taiwanese businesses look positively on Paraguay's ample renewable energy and will look further into cooperation that will help spur Paraguay's industrial upgrading and economic development while helping resolve labor issues. The vice president then said that the students of UPTP will act as the drivers of Paraguay's future economic prosperity and added that our future bilateral projects have already been formulated, so we can keep moving ahead with them.

Secretary-General to the President Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), Deputy Secretary-General to the President Alex Huang (黃重諺), Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Tah-ray Yui (俞大㵢), and Ambassador to Paraguay Han Chih-cheng (韓志正) also attended the reception.

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