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President Tsai officially welcomes President Surangel Whipps Jr. of Palau with military honors
President Tsai officially welcomes President Surangel Whipps Jr. of Palau with military honors

President Tsai Ing-wen officially welcomed President Surangel Whipps Jr. of the Republic of Palau on the morning of October 6 with full military honors. In remarks, President Tsai noted that this December will mark the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Palau, and that over the years, our two countries have helped and supported each other, overcoming many challenges. She thanked Palau for its friendship, saying that Taiwan looks forward to comprehensively deepening our bilateral cooperation through this visit.

The welcome ceremony was held at 10:30 am at the main plaza of the National Theater and Concert Hall of the National Performing Arts Center. President Tsai and President Whipps each delivered remarks after a 21-gun salute and the playing of the two countries' national anthems.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

Today, I am delighted to receive our good friend President Whipps with military honors. In March last year, President Whipps was the first head of state among Taiwan's diplomatic allies to visit since the outbreak of the pandemic. Together, we launched the first travel bubble in Asia. This time, President Whipps has come on a state visit. On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), I extend my sincerest welcome to President Whipps.

This December will mark the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Palau. Over the years, we have helped and supported each other, overcoming many challenges. Since assuming office last year, President Whipps has led Palau in jointly combating the pandemic with Taiwan. We greatly appreciate Palau's friendship and look forward to comprehensively deepening bilateral cooperation through this visit.

In closing, I once again welcome President Whipps and the members of the delegation. I wish every success for this state visit. Thank you!

A transcript of President Whipps' remarks follows:

Thank you for such a generous and warm welcome to Taiwan. It is my honor to be here today with all of you, to be standing with these brave young men and women of the Taiwan military. 

Only a few days ago on October 1, we the people of Palau celebrated our Independence Day. It was in 1994 when we gained our independence, and we are blessed to be able to say that Taiwan and her people have been good friends of our young nation. Our partnership is one that is based on mutual respect [and] friendship, and strengthened by our shared commitment to peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, [and] climate change and our desire to protect our oceans as maritime nations. 

It is with these shared beliefs that have allowed us to build partnerships in various areas. For more than 20 years, Taiwan has been a strong partner in security, healthcare, fisheries, infrastructure, education, and tourism. 

Last year, we started the first [travel] bubble, and although it didn't last that long, what's important is that we strive and we work together to try to make it happen. And this year, at the beginning of Palau getting a community spread of COVID in Palau [sic], the first teams that were in Palau were the doctors from Taiwan to help us get through that in January this year. And we appreciate the shared partnership to get through this challenge that we have.

Furthermore, at Our Ocean Conference that we were able to hold in Palau in April, not only did you assist, but you were able to send your Taiwan Coast Guard to participate with our Palau Marine Law Enforcement and jointly work on security operations. Madam President, I believe you said, that that partnership marked a new milestone in maintaining a strong Indo-Pacific peace, security, and stability. And we agree. 

The world has been challenged with climate change, COVID, and now conflict. The people of Palau deeply value the friendship between our two nations and are committed to supporting Taiwan despite the mounting aggressions in our region. 

We strongly condemn Russia's aggression in Ukraine, and this further emphasizes that we need all nations to adhere to the rule of law. These values are especially important to Palau and Taiwan as nations working to build governments that offer their people safety, security, and prosperity, and above all, peace. In [the] face of attempts by nations to change the international status quo by force, we must continue to work together and encourage international cooperation in order to ease military tensions. 

The Republic of Palau looks forward to continuing our strong friendship with Taiwan. And we know that we are stronger together, and through cooperation we can overcome the challenges our nations continue to face now and in the future. 

Mesulang, thank you, xiexie.

Also in attendance at the welcome ceremony were Palau Ambassador David Adams Orrukem and members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan.

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