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President Tsai meets Belgian parliamentary delegation
President Tsai meets Belgian parliamentary delegation

On the morning of October 18, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. In remarks, President Tsai expressed gratitude for Belgium's various forms of support for Taiwan's international participation and its attention to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait over the past three years. She also expressed hope that Taiwan and Belgium can continue to deepen our bilateral relationship, establish institutionalized cooperation, and bring about mutually beneficial solutions for both sides.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

It is a pleasure to meet with Foreign Relations Committee Chair Els Van Hoof and Belgium-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Co-chair Georges Dallemagne again. I also warmly welcome the members of parliament who are visiting Taiwan for the first time. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I want to thank you for demonstrating your support through this visit.

In recent years, we have seen increased support from Belgium. The Chamber of Representatives, the Senate, the Flemish Parliament, and the Parliament of Wallonia have all passed resolutions over the past three years supporting Taiwan's international participation and calling for deeper Taiwan-Belgium relations.

The Belgian government has publicly supported Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly for three consecutive years. Not long ago, Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib reiterated that the status quo across the Taiwan Strait should be maintained.

I would like to thank you all for your efforts in supporting Taiwan's international participation and for your attention to peace across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan and Belgium both firmly uphold the universal values of freedom and democracy. With your staunch support, I believe we will continue to steadily enhance our bilateral ties.

Taiwan-Belgium cooperation in offshore wind infrastructure and the semiconductor industry has yielded fruitful results. And our partnership continues to deepen. For example, Taiwan and the Flemish government signed an MOU on cooperation last year. This April, a consultation meeting was held to continue exchanges and work toward institutionalizing our cooperation.

Looking ahead, we hope to establish institutionalized cooperation with the Belgian federal government in complementary areas such as cybersecurity and bring about mutually beneficial solutions for both sides. In closing, I once again welcome you to Taiwan and look forward to working with you on enhancing Taiwan-Belgium relations. I wish you a successful visit.

A transcript of Chair Van Hoof 's remarks follows:

Allow me first and foremost to express, on behalf of our delegation, our deepest gratitude for receiving us here today. Also, for me personally, it is a pleasure to be in Taipei once again and meet you again after my visit last year with IPAC [Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China].

Our two societies are connected through the same values of democracy, human rights, and [the] rule of law. And Taiwan's sustained attachment to those values contributes to the promotion of democracy in the Indo-Pacific region. It moreover constitutes a sustainable foundation of our two [sic], Belgian and Taiwanese, friendship.

This friendship [is] shown by annual commercial exchanges of over [US]$3 billion last year and by some 100 cooperation[s] between academic institutions. Especially as you said in the domain of offshore wind energy, the cooperation between our two democracies has resulted in some fascinating good realizations. For instance, we had recently, and I thought you were there, Ms. President, the inauguration of Taiwan's first domestically produced crane vessel and the ongoing construction of some important offshore wind farm projects to a Belgian-Taiwanese joint venture. And our trade will certainly become increasingly important in the future.

I think, and as you said, the importance of this parliamentary visit cannot be [overestimated]. We are concerned, of course, of the growing crossing of your air identification zone and also the median line by military vessels but also by Chinese jets. And also, that's why we are precisely here for this reason. This visit is important to show that Taiwan is not standing alone against these threats. And I like quotes, and I like to quote also Jane Austen, a famous UK novelist, and I will quote "there is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises [with] every attempt to intimidate me." And I think this quote perfectly fits Taiwan.

Also, I can reassure you that Taiwan is highly on the agenda of our Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Relations, and during numerous debates already parliamentarians of almost all parties – we are here with six parties, we are here with parties from [the] majority and opposition. We've never seen that before. I think it's a sign of solidarity. And we have condemned the unilateral aggression actions of China. And even our government, as you said also, our Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Lahbib, has not hesitated to call numerous times for the importance of de-escalation and restraining from any provocations that may endanger the status quo.

And also our parliament, moreover, has activity called also in a resolution, which has been accepted in 2020, for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, as you called, also, the World Health Assembly. Of course, we will continue to support this also after our visit. Another topic, as you know, the EU is adopting a de-risking approach, a new approach towards the PRC, in order to preserve its strategic autonomy and secure also the critical supply chains. And as a global leader in the field of semiconductors, Taiwan can play a very important role in this strategy, and particularly in the implementation of the recently adopted Chips Act.

Madam President, Your Excellencies, to conclude, I am confident that Belgium and Taiwan will be able to further deepen our friendship in the future, as well as our joint commitment to peace and stability in the strait of Taiwan. Let us also focus on the opportunities for future cooperation. Another quote, and I will end with that, "true friendship shines brighter than any shadow that tries to darken it." Thank you so much.

The delegation also included member of the Foreign Relations Committee and Defense Committee Wouter De Vriendt, Chair of the Constitution and Institutional Renewal Committee Özlem Özen, Vice Chair of the Interior, Security, Migration and Administrative Affairs Committee Koen Metsu, member of the Foreign Relations Committee and vice chair of the advisory committee on social emancipation Darya Safai, Vice Chair of the Defense Committee Jasper Pillen, and member of the Foreign Relations Committee Goedele Liekens. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Director of the Belgian Office, Taipei Matthieu Baudouin Branders.


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