While attending a reception for the 199th anniversary of the independence of Central America on the morning of September 15, President Tsai Ing-wen thanked our diplomatic allies in Central America for working with us to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. She also emphasized that Taiwan will continue to devote its strengths to sharing and safeguarding freedom with its diplomatic partners and the international community in a variety of ways.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
Today, September 15, marks the 199th anniversary of the independence of Central America. Today's celebration is especially significant in light of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. On behalf of the Republic of China (Taiwan), I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to our diplomatic allies in Central America. I also want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for working with us to contain the pandemic.
The geographical distance between Taiwan and its Central American partners has never posed an obstacle. Similarly, the global pandemic, however severe, has never disrupted exchanges between us. Just last month, we held a Taiwan Scholarship presentation ceremony in Guatemala. Recipients of this year's Taiwan Scholarship in our diplomatic allies are preparing to travel to Taiwan. Like earlier recipients, they will study and interact with local students.
Also last month, the Taiwan Development Institute and the National Institute of Vocational Training of Honduras signed an MOU on vocational education. This opened a new chapter in vocational training exchanges between our countries. In Nicaragua, after steady efforts by Taiwan's Technical Mission and the Nicaraguan Institute of Agricultural Technology, a training and convention center was inaugurated in April. This will serve as a platform for agricultural education and enhance bilateral technological cooperation. These are but a few of the many joint endeavors we have implemented.
And we all know that football is a big part of life in Central America. Our friends from Central American allies have been regular participants in the Copa America Taiwan that we host each year. The tournament will be held again next month, as scheduled, but on an even larger scale than ever before. This will foster even more interactions between the Taiwanese people and our friends from diplomatic allies.
This goes to show that the pandemic did not interrupt the connections between us but strengthened them. During the pandemic we have looked out for one another and exchanged pandemic prevention materials and experience. In an online joint statement last month we introduced Taiwan's excellent pandemic prevention materials to Central American companies, coming together to fight the pandemic.
In his remarks at this showcase event, Guatemala Ambassador Willy Alberto Gómez Tirado noted that Taiwanese face masks have allowed the people of Guatemala to go outdoors and enjoy an unrestricted lifestyle once again. He said that such sharing is, in fact, the sharing of freedom. I was touched by Ambassador Gómez's remarks. I want to tell him and our friends from diplomatic allies that sharing and safeguarding freedom is what Taiwan has been doing all along. Thanks to your support, Taiwan can do more and better.
We are gathered here today because of our shared commitment to democracy and freedom. One hundred and ninety-nine years ago, the peoples of Central American countries rose up against oppression, seeking liberation from a history of colonial rule. Taiwan very much empathizes with this. Having walked the arduous path to democracy, we cherish our accomplishment all the more. We will not bow under external pressure.
We will do our utmost to safeguard democracy and freedom. In addition to sharing face masks, Taiwan will continue to devote its strengths to share and safeguard freedom with its diplomatic partners and the international community in a variety of ways.
I especially wish to thank our Central American allies for their longstanding support and for publicly endorsing Taiwan's international participation. I look forward to concerted efforts by Taiwan and our Central American partners to further bolster exchanges in various areas and achieve enormous success.
In closing, I would like to invite everyone to join me in a toast: to the good health and wellbeing of the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; to the continued prosperity of your beautiful countries; and to the enduring friendship between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and our Central American allies.
Also in attendance were National Security Council Secretary-General Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Li-Jey Tsao (曹立傑), Guatemala Ambassador Willy Alberto Gómez Tirado, Honduras Ambassador Eny Yamileth Bautista Guevara, and Chargé d'Affaires Mirna Rivera of the Embassy of Nicaragua.