On the morning of January 9, President Tsai Ing-wen met with President of the Chamber of Deputies of Paraguay Carlos María López López. In remarks, President Tsai said that in the face of continuing expansion of authoritarianism, democratic allies must cooperate more closely to defend our way of life. The President also expressed hope that Taiwan and Paraguay can continue working together to make more contributions to the international community.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
This is the first time that Chamber President López has led a delegation to Taiwan, and it is also the first time that each of the delegation members has visited Taiwan. I am confident that, as a result of your trip, bilateral ties between Taiwan and Paraguay will take another big step forward.
Over the past six-plus years, Taiwan and Paraguay have steadily enhanced exchanges in many fields. My first overseas trip after taking office as president in 2016 was to Paraguay. And after President Mario Abdo Benítez assumed office in 2018, his first overseas visit was to Taiwan. These visits demonstrate the depth of the friendship between our two countries.
We are glad to see tremendous results coming from our bilateral cooperation. Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University, for example, has gotten off to a smooth start and is cultivating outstanding engineering and technical talent in Paraguay.
Economic and trade ties between Taiwan and Paraguay continue to grow. Despite the pandemic, our total bilateral trade from January through October of last year reached a new all-time high of more than US$220 million. We are hopeful that our countries can continue to take part in wide-ranging cooperation and create even greater well-being for our peoples.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Paraguay for speaking out in support of Taiwan over the years. Last year, several members of the Chamber of Deputies of Paraguay joined in a "one person, one letter" campaign to support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and other international organizations and mechanisms. Such strong support truly warms our hearts.
I want to emphasize that, in the face of the continuing expansion of authoritarianism, democratic allies must cooperate more closely to defend our way of life. Our guests with us today are all very good friends of Taiwan, and we hope that Taiwan and Paraguay can continue working together to make more contributions to the international community.
In closing, I once again welcome you all to Taiwan. On your schedule for this trip, in addition to meetings with other government agencies, is a stop in Tainan, which will provide you a first-hand understanding of our people, our culture, and the state of our industrial development. I wish you all a pleasant and productive visit.
Chamber President López then delivered remarks, stating that just as President Tsai has said, Paraguay is a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, and Taiwan is a diplomatic ally of Paraguay. Official diplomatic ties between the two countries date back over 65 years, he added, and despite the great physical distance between them, bonds of friendship link the two countries closely together.
Chamber President López thanked and praised Taiwan for providing Paraguay with assistance and opportunities for cooperation in many fields. He pointed out that Taiwan offers scholarships to enable Paraguayan students to study in Taiwan and experience a different way of learning, and that the Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University program affords many young people opportunities to grow in both mind and body and to prepare themselves adequately for the future.
Chamber President López thanked Taiwan for the warm hospitality that Taiwan has shown to the delegation and, by extension, to the people of Paraguay. He noted how the members of the present delegation all being from different political parties demonstrates that democracy is indeed a way of life. In the democratic way of life, he said, what is most important is mutual respect, respect for the choice of the voters, and for elected officials to make a conscientious effort to serve the people who elected them.
Chamber President López expressed confidence that, on the foundation of respect for the people, Taiwan and Paraguay will continue working together with the international community to ensure that the people can truly prosper and develop in a peaceful and stable environment. He also expressed hope that diplomatic ties and cooperation between the two countries will continue to deepen.
Also present at the meeting were Teófilo Espínola Peralta, who leads the Paraguayan committee on social development and housing; Edgar Espínola Guerrero, chairperson of the Paraguayan committee on national defense, security, and intelligence; and Rodrigo Daniel Blanco Amarilla, chairperson of the Paraguayan committee on childhood and youth development. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Paraguay Ambassador Carlos José Fleitas Rodríguez.