On the morning of August 8, after welcoming Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and his delegation with military honors, President Tsai Ing-wen, accompanied by Vice President Lai Ching-te, met with the prime minister for bilateral talks and to witness the signing of bilateral treaties and a letter of intent. In remarks at the meeting, President Tsai thanked Prime Minister Gonsalves for speaking up for Taiwan many times on the international stage. The president also expressed hope that Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will face the challenges of the post-pandemic era together and continue to promote programs in such areas as economic transformation and women's empowerment, further advancing the welfare of both our peoples.
A translation of the president's remarks follows:
In July 2019, I led a delegation to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The beautiful Caribbean scenery and the warmth of the people there left me with a deep impression. In August of the same year, Prime Minister Gonsalves paid a return visit to Taiwan and personally hosted the plaque-unveiling ceremony for the new Embassy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In recent years, exchanges between our two countries have grown closer. We have jointly faced the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to expand cooperation across the board. Shortly, we will together witness the signing of the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, and the Letter of Intent on Higher Education, marking a new milestone in our cooperation.
Going forward, Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will face the challenges of the post-pandemic era together. We will continue to promote programs in such areas as economic transformation and women's empowerment to further advance the welfare of our two peoples.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to Prime Minister Gonsalves. Since taking office in 2001, he has spoken out in support of Taiwan on the international stage many times. Recently, in the wake of China's military exercises in waters around Taiwan, Prime Minister Gonsalves also voiced strong support for Taiwan.
Prime Minister Gonsalves currently serves as the General Coordinator of the Formosa Club in the Caribbean, and continues to support Taiwan's international participation through his global influence. I truly admire the achievements of Prime Minister Gonsalves' administration. In recent years, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has played an active role in global affairs and overcame the challenges brought about by the pandemic and the eruption of La Soufrière.
I firmly believe that under Prime Minister Gonsalves' leadership, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will continue to excel in the international community. We look forward to Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines working together to create even more prosperity and progress throughout the world.
Prime Minister Gonsalves then delivered remarks, noting how well he knows the room in which the talks were held, as this was his 11th time in the Presidential Office since mid-2001. The prime minister added that he had also been in this room with former presidents Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou, as well as with President Tsai during her first term.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, like those in Taiwan, are very competitive, robust, and exciting, with lots of suspense, as nobody knows the results until after the votes have been counted.
Prime Minister Gonsalves further said that in some countries, elections are not as interesting, because you tend to know the results before voting takes place, and that he would not like to be involved in those elections, nor does he think would anyone else in attendance. The prime minister stated that he was not criticizing what other people do, but just mentioning his preference, as what others do is the business of their countries and people, so he does not interfere with such matters, and does not want others to interfere with his own affairs.
Prime Minister Gonsalves expressed his belief that relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of China (Taiwan) are unbreakable because they are grounded in people-to-people linkages, like family. Noting the regular exchanges between our farmers, students, NGOs, and people running small businesses, the prime minister said that we should further develop such people-to-people links, and ramp up state-to-state relations, in addition to the many bilateral efforts that we should also continue.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that while some people talk about competing with others, he believes relationships do not need to be transactional, with ours grounded in everlasting principles. The prime minister also said that he looks forward to holding discussions with various entities during his visit, including the discussions on the letter of intent on post-secondary and university education.
Prime Minister Gonsalves stated that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will never allow any activity independent of our own to interfere with our bilateral cooperation. The prime minister said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small country with large principles, which has overcome many challenges in its history, and that as such there is no power on earth that can intimidate it. The prime minister added that he was not accusing any country of intimidating his own, but rather just stating a matter of fact.
Prime Minister Gonsalves concluded by thanking President Tsai once again and conveying the best wishes of his wife and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
After the talks were concluded, several agreements were signed to further advance bilateral judicial and educational cooperation. President Tsai witnessed Prime Minister Gonsalves, who also acts as St. Vincent and the Grenadines minister of legal affairs, join Justice Minister Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) in signing the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, before signing the Letter of Intent on Higher Education alongside Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠).
Among those in attendance at the meeting were St. Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Family, Gender Affairs, Youth, Housing and Informal Human Settlement Orando Brewster and Mrs. Brewster, Office of the Prime Minister Permanent Secretary Angie William-Jackson, and National Insurance Services Board Chairman Lennox Bowman. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Peter Sha-li Lan (藍夏禮), and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Andrea Clare Bowman.