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President Tsai attends welcome banquet hosted by overseas community in Southern Africa
President Tsai attends welcome banquet hosted by overseas community in Southern Africa

On the evening of September 5 local time (early morning of September 6 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen attended a welcome banquet held by our overseas community in Southern Africa. President Tsai thanked the community members for making the journey from across Africa to be there, bringing the passion of Africa to her delegation as soon as they arrived. The president outlined progress and changes that Taiwan has made and said her delegation looks forward to learning more about the achievements of our medical and technical missions in Eswatini. She also expressed confidence that with the overseas community's support for Taiwan, we will have a smoother and steadier path ahead and even greater achievements. 

In remarks at the banquet, President Tsai said that as soon as her delegation arrived in Eswatini that day, they felt the passion of Africa through the welcome they received from our overseas community members at the airport. She said she was delighted to have the opportunity to meet at the banquet with so many community members from across Africa.

President Tsai then greeted attendees who had traveled from South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, and Malawi to be there. Noting that some of those present also attended the overseas community banquet held when she visited Eswatini five years ago, the president thanked everyone who had traveled from afar, making a tremendous effort to be there.

The president mentioned that five years ago, after returning from Eswatini, she initiated the Africa Project. She added that when she returns from this, her second trip to Eswatini, she will make adjustments to the Africa Project and expressed hope that our community members with experience living and operating businesses in Africa will help our government learn how to develop a more comprehensive project.

President Tsai then introduced the four members of the Legislative Yuan who have joined this trip to Eswatini: Fan Yun (范雲), Chiu Tai-yuan (邱泰源), Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉), and Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠). She stated that in Taiwan, while there are different political parties with different positions, there is a near consensus when it comes to diplomacy. The president expressed her belief that we can all implement the Africa Project to great effect regardless of our party affiliation, so that our community members in Africa will be able to work more effectively and so that perhaps when the next president of Taiwan comes to Africa, they will be able to visit more places than just Eswatini.  

The president said that despite facing the COVID-19 pandemic and other global challenges these past few years, Taiwan has managed to continue developing its economy and infrastructure. She stated that infrastructure development does not just improve the investment environment, it also helps drive economic progress. She cited the example of Taiwan's wind energy development in recent years, stating that many international wind energy companies have brought funding and advanced technology to Taiwan, which, along with the development of our infrastructure, has helped contribute to the increase in overall foreign investment in Taiwan in recent years. 

The president stated that because we have done well with our infrastructure, our country has become more competitive, and cited the Institute of Management Development's World Competitiveness Ranking, in which Taiwan's overall ranking improved from 17th in 2018 to sixth this year.

The president said that during the pandemic, Taiwan also held steady. In 2020 while the global economy experienced negative growth, she added, Taiwan was one of the few countries that achieved economic growth of three percent or higher; while in 2021, Taiwan achieved positive economic growth of 6.5 percent and our per capita GDP surpassed US$30,000 for the first time. 

Looking back at the changes in Taiwan over the past few years, she said that everyone can see that there is much new local infrastructure and development. The president mentioned that Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) has turned the Asia's New Bay Area in Kaohsiung into a new-generation cluster of flagship enterprises. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), she noted, will also set up a wafer fab in Kaohsiung's Nanzih Technology Industrial Park, adding that Kaohsiung now has semiconductor, electric vehicle, and renewable energy industries, as well as new industries like 5G and the artificial intelligence of things (AIoT), transforming it from a heavy-industry city of fossil fuels and steel into a city of high-tech industries.  

President Tsai said that through it all, there has been close cooperation between our central and local governments, as Mayor Chen and Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) are working together to resolve industrial utilities issues and have put a lot of effort into this endeavor.

The president stated that as the whole world is facing extreme weather events, over the past two years Taiwan has experienced its most severe draught in a century. She said that the government has taken numerous steps including increasing the number of drought-resistant wells, constructing cross-regional water dispatch supply mains, improving underflow water construction, and building seawater desalination plants so that water can be diverted to many areas in Taiwan where there is no natural water supply. 

The president also mentioned that an important objective of this trip is to make Kaohsiung and the capital of Eswatini Mbabane sister cities. She added that our Overseas Investment and Development Corporation has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Eswatini National Petroleum Company on engineering contracting cooperation and that she will view the modernized facilities at the renovated Mbabane Government Hospital on this trip.

Noting that the world has changed a lot over the past five years, President Tsai said that what has not changed is Taiwan's resolve to pursue cooperation and conduct exchanges with our allies. She said that Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Chun Lee (李淳), Ambassador to Eswatini Jeremy H.S. Liang (梁洪昇), all of our colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and those posted at the embassy in Eswatini are giving their all to deepen our bilateral friendship.

The president said that through this visit, we look forward to learning more about the achievements of our medical and technical missions in Eswatini. She then thanked our friends from the overseas community, the Overseas Community Affairs Council, and its Minister Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), adding that since she first took office in 2016, on every one of her and the vice president's international trips, our objectives have been successfully achieved thanks to the efforts of our overseas communities and their contributions to Taiwan. 

President Tsai stated that the members of her delegation all embarked at 6 or 7 a.m. that day and had been on the go for 20 hours, but that the sight of so many friends from our overseas community, who have traveled from afar for this occasion, was truly heartwarming. She added that going forward, Africa is an area in which we must make strong efforts and that no matter if she is president or not, she will do her best to do so.

President Tsai then thanked everyone again for supporting Taiwan, our home. Stating that Taiwan will remain committed to engaging with the world, the president expressed confidence that with everyone walking together down this path, we will have a smoother and steadier journey and even greater achievements.

Among those attending the event were Eswatini Minister of Justice Pholile Dlamini Shakantu, Deputy Secretary-General to the President Xavier Chang (張惇涵), Overseas Community Affairs Council Member Chang Wan-li (張萬利), African Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce President Chen Shu-fang (陳淑芳) and Counseling President Jian Yong-jie (簡湧杰), and Chinese Association in Swaziland President Hou Guang-ling (侯廣靈). 

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