On the afternoon of October 10, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu. The president welcomed him after his long journey to attend Taiwan's national day celebrations, and thanked the Tuvalu government for continually speaking up for Taiwan in international venues. She also expressed hope for increased cooperation between Taiwan and Tuvalu to achieve sustainable national development together.
In remarks, President Tsai first welcomed Prime Minister Sopoaga and his wife to Taiwan for yet another state visit, and thanked them for making the long journey. The president recalled that Prime Minister Sopoaga led a delegation to attend her inauguration last year, and said the frequency of these visits shows how close the friendship is between the two countries. Just a few days ago, Tuvalu had celebrated its Independence Day, and the president took this opportunity to express her congratulations in person, wishing Tuvalu a "Happy Birthday!"
President Tsai pointed out that when Tuvalu declared independence 39 years ago, Taiwan was the first diplomatic ally in the international community to recognize that status. Over these 39 years, the friendship between Taiwan and Tuvalu has never been interrupted, and the president expressed hope that the two countries would continue to witness each other's birthday every year.
President Tsai noted that the Tuvalu government has always spoken up for Taiwan in international venues. When the Pacific Islands Forum was in session last month, for example, Prime Minister Sopoaga issued a letter urging member nations to upgrade the treatment of Taiwan at that forum, and allow Taiwan to participate more broadly in relevant dialogues. And at the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Sopoaga openly lauded Taiwan as an active and responsible development partner to many countries including Tuvalu, urging that the UN allow the 23 million people of Taiwan their fundamental right to participate fully in the UN systems.
President Tsai said that many people in Taiwan are aware of this staunch support because it has been reported in the media. She expressed her sincere gratitude for that support, and again emphasized that Taiwan is willing and able to participate in international affairs, and to share the responsibility for addressing the challenges that face the world.
The president mentioned that Taiwan recently released its first Voluntary National Review to put the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into practice. Minister of the Environmental Protection Administration Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) told her that when he released that report in New York, Prime Minister Sopoaga and his wife were on hand to express their support.
President Tsai further pointed out that this report demonstrates Taiwan's clear resolve to fulfill its responsibilities as a global citizen by proposing local solutions for sustainable development. She expressed confidence that the report will also have a positive impact on sustainable development in countries that have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Noting that the quest for sustainable development touches on many different issues, including the need to promote food security, improve health and education, and ensure the sustainability of all kinds of natural resources, the president said that Taiwan and Tuvalu already have a foundation of long-term bilateral cooperation in all of these areas. She said that she understands that the Tuvalu government places great emphasis on the country's sustainable development, and assured them that Taiwan will continue to stand with Tuvalu to enhance cooperation and do as much as possible to achieve all of the SDGs. She added that she would work together with Prime Minister Sopoaga, "supporting each other and engaging with the world."
Prime Minister Sopoaga stated that he was here in Taiwan to represent the government and people of Tuvalu in wishing the Republic of China a happy birthday. He said that Tuvalu has always been deeply impressed by the development of Taiwan, and that in participating in the national day celebrations he was inspired by President Tsai's speech. He expressed confidence that under President Tsai's leadership, Taiwan will continue to prosper and develop, and the friendship between the two countries will continue to deepen. He added that, as Tuvalu's prime minister, he was very proud to be one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies.
Prime Minister Sopoaga also mentioned that the preceding day he had met with Tuvalu students studying in Taiwan, and that he very much looked forward to seeing them return to Tuvalu after completing their studies to help his nation develop. Representing the people of Tuvalu, he thanked President Tsai and the government of the Republic of China for the aid provided to Tuvalu students. As for Taiwan's achievements in terms of the SDGs, he expressed congratulations, and stated that Taiwan places great emphasis on climate change and maritime development, and said that under President Tsai's leadership, Taiwan would make contributions to the world and achieve the SDGs.