President Tsai Ing-wen presented Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman Emeritus of US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, with the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon on the morning of April 2 to recognize her contributions to promoting the development of Taiwan-US relations.
President Tsai stated that for the past three decades, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen has been a major supporter of Taiwan in the US Congress, promoting the development of Taiwan-US relations. The president said that on behalf of the people of Taiwan, she is delighted to confer the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon on Ms. Ros-Lehtinen to thank her for her contributions.
President Tsai noted that Ms. Ros-Lehtinen has promoted many important bills and issues favorable to Taiwan, and convened many committee hearings about Taiwan issues. She has also consistently urged the US executive branch to fulfill its commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) to provide Taiwan with defensive arms.
In economics and trade, said the president, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen supports a Taiwan-US free trade agreement that will strengthen our mutual partnership. She has also been a vocal supporter of Taiwan's participation in international organizations like the World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
President Tsai mentioned that she and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen have known each other for years, and that Ms. Ros-Lehtinen is also a good friend of many political figures in Taiwan. Although Ms. Ros-Lehtinen will leave government service when her term expires at the end of this year, she will pass on the tradition of Taiwan-US friendship to the incoming representatives, and help Taiwan make more friends.
The president also welcomed Congresswoman Claudia Tenney for her first visit to Taiwan, which will give her a chance to get to know Taiwan better. When the Taiwan Travel Act became law last month, said President Tsai, Taiwan-US relations took another big step forward. The president stated that these advances are a tribute to strong US Congress support for Taiwan, and she thanked both congresswomen for cosponsoring and supporting that legislation.
President Tsai stated that the cumulative efforts of many people have created a solid and long-standing friendship between Taiwan and the US. The president once again specially thanked Ms. Ros-Lehtinen for her efforts in that regard over the years. The president said that Taiwan will always treasure her friendship and welcomes her to visit often. President Tsai then expressed hope that in the future, Taiwan-US relations will continue to progress, and that the two countries can achieve even more by cooperating on all fronts.
After receiving the decoration Ms. Ros-Lehtinen delivered remarks, saying that with the TRA's 39th anniversary just eight days away, she was proud to say that US-Taiwan relations are stronger than ever. The most eloquent testimony to that, she said, is the new compound of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) scheduled to open in just a few months.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen mentioned that she was born in Cuba, and fled from the Castro regime with her family when she was eight years old. This background brings her closer to the Taiwanese people, she said, and that her childhood experience taught her what it's like to be bullied by a communist regime. So one of her highest priorities during her service in the US Congress has been to fight against suppressive regimes.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen pointed out that Taiwan has a thriving democracy, open society, free media, and freedom of expression, and as a beacon of freedom in the Pacific region, is also an economic power house and a key US ally. She said that Taiwan has shown the world what can be achieved when policies of free will and innovation are allowed to flourish. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen also said that the US will work together with Taiwan on issues like new trade deals, new weapon systems, increasing ties in Latin America, and strengthening participation in various international organizations to ensure that Taiwan can resist China's aggression and coercion.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Acting Secretary-General to the President Liu Chien-sin (劉建忻), National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), AIT Taipei Office Director Kin Moy, and Legislators Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and Lo Chih-Cheng (羅致政).