On the morning of August 25, the Presidential Office held a press conference to announce that President Tsai Ing-wen will lead a delegation from September 5 to 8 to visit the Kingdom of Eswatini, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan. On this trip, President Tsai hopes to achieve two major goals: to celebrate the enduring friendship between our two countries and to advance our sustainable cooperation. While celebrating the close and enduring friendship between Taiwan and Eswatini, the president also looks forward to seeing our countries work together, on the basis of our mutually beneficial relationship, on sustainable development in all areas of our cooperation to enhance the well-being of our peoples.
At the press conference, Presidential Office Spokesperson Olivia Lin (林聿禪) stated that the Kingdom of Eswatini is a steadfast diplomatic ally of Taiwan in Africa that has long spoken up for the Republic of China (Taiwan) at international venues and has staunchly supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations. The spokesperson said that Taiwan and Eswatini cooperate closely in the important fields of infrastructure, public health and medicine, education, information and communications technology, agriculture, and food security. She noted that King Mswati III of Eswatini, who ascended to the throne in 1986, has since visited Taiwan 18 times, demonstrating our close and friendly bilateral relations.
Spokesperson Lin pointed out that this year marks not only the 55th year of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Eswatini, but also the 55th anniversary of Eswatini's independence and the 55th birthday of King Mswati. She stated that, at the invitation of the king, President Tsai will lead a delegation to the Kingdom of Eswatini from September 5 to 8 to demonstrate the importance Taiwan places on its staunch diplomatic allies. The spokesperson said that during this visit President Tsai also hopes to further enhance our cooperation and to see firsthand the progress we have made on our cooperative projects in such areas as public health and women's empowerment.
Spokesperson Lin said that the theme of this trip is Celebrating Enduring Friendship, Advancing Sustainable Cooperation, which refers to the two major goals the president hopes to achieve on her visit, specifically, to celebrate the enduring friendship between our two countries and to advance our sustainable cooperation. The spokesperson added that while celebrating the long and enduring friendship between Taiwan and Eswatini, the president also looks forward to seeing our countries work together, on the basis of our mutually beneficial relationship, on sustainable development in all areas of our cooperation to enhance the well-being of our peoples.
Spokesperson Lin stated that the principal members of this delegation include Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), Overseas Community Affairs Council Minister Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Deputy Secretary-General to the President Xavier Chang (張惇涵), and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Chun Lee (李淳). She added that, in accordance with precedent, after the press conference members of the Legislative Yuan from the ruling and opposition parties will be invited to join the delegation. The spokesperson also welcomed and invited members of the media to apply to travel with the delegation, which will accommodate a designated number of journalists.
Spokesperson Lin added that although the COVID-19 pandemic is abating around the world, a disease prevention plan will be implemented during the trip to ensure the health and safety of the delegation members.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lee then outlined the trip itinerary, stating that in addition to attending a celebration honoring the 55th anniversary of Eswatini's founding and the 55th birthday of King Mswati, President Tsai will have meetings with the king and the Queen Mother Ntombi Tfwala and will witness the signing of bilateral cooperation agreements. Deputy Minister Lee also noted that the president will attend a state banquet held by the king, have a meal with representatives from our community based in Eswatini and other Southern African countries, inspect the progress of Taiwan-Eswatini joint healthcare and women's empowerment projects, and visit the Outpatient Department and Emergency Complex of Mbabane Government Hospital, where a medical team sent from Taipei Medical University Hospital are practicing.
Deputy Minister Lee said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to cooperate closely with the government of Eswatini and our relevant ministries to finalize the details of this itinerary. He then expressed hope that this trip will go smoothly and will substantively enhance our bilateral relationship.
In response to a question from the media about the inclusion in the delegation of Kaohsiung Mayor Chen, Deputy Minister Lee stated that Taiwan and Eswatini are strengthening cooperation between local governments as well as between our central governments. He pointed out that Mayor Chen is joining the delegation primarily because Kaohsiung and Mbabane are in the process of becoming sister cities. Under this sister city project, he added, it is hoped that the two cities can advance cooperation in education, youth exchanges, and other areas, which is why Mayor Chen has been included in the delegation.
A member of the media then asked if President Tsai's trip to Eswatini, coming soon after China's President Xi Jinping attended the BRICS Summit in neighboring South Africa on August 21, is intended as a competitive move. Deputy Minister Lee responded that the timing of President Tsai's trip is based primarily on the fact that Eswatini's Independence Day is September 6 and that ever since achieving independence, Eswatini has celebrated this milestone every September 6. He added that President Tsai will depart for Eswatini on September 5 in order to attend the celebration of Eswatini's independence and King Mswati's birthday on September 6, stating that there are no such considerations about competition and that the similar timing of these trips is nothing more than a coincidence.