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President Tsai meets Eswatini delegation led by Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini
President Tsai meets Eswatini delegation led by Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini

On the morning of March 6, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini Cleopas Dlamini and his wife Lomvula Hlophe. In remarks, President Tsai said that Taiwan and Eswatini collaborated, supported each other, and stood together as important partners in combating the pandemic, and we have also bolstered cooperation in such areas as trade and the economy, public health, and information and communications technology. President Tsai also stated that we will continue to marshal the strengths of our government and the private sector to accelerate cooperation and exchanges and further deepen our ties.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

Today marks the first time Prime Minister Dlamini is leading a delegation of officials to Taiwan. On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), I would like to extend a most sincere welcome to you all. Your visit demonstrates the strong bond between our two countries and carries great significance for deepening our bilateral relations.

I visited Eswatini in 2018. The majestic landscapes of Africa and the warm welcome I received from the people left me with a deep impression. His Majesty King Mswati III has visited Taiwan twice since that time. Together, we have witnessed the fruitful results of bilateral exchanges in a variety of areas.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan and Eswatini collaborated and supported each other. We jointly manufactured medical masks and stood together as important partners in combating the pandemic. We have also bolstered cooperation in such areas as trade and the economy, public health, and information and communications technology, creating greater well-being for both our peoples.

In addition, both Taiwan and Eswatini respect the international order and firmly maintain regional peace and stability. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my special appreciation to the Kingdom of Eswatini for its longstanding support of Taiwan's international participation. Prime Minister Dlamini has also spoken out for Taiwan multiple times on the international stage. Such gestures of friendship have deeply touched the people of Taiwan.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. Moving forward, we will continue to marshal the strengths of our government and the private sector to accelerate cooperation and exchanges and further deepen our ties. In closing, I would like to once again welcome Prime Minister Dlamini and his delegation. I wish you a smooth and successful visit. I would also like to ask the Prime Minister to convey my sincere regards to His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen Mother. 

Prime Minister Dlamini then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:

First of all, Your Excellency, I bring with me the warmest and most fraternal greetings from Their Majesties the King, the Queen Mother, and the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini. Your Excellency, I would like to thank you personally, and your government, principally, for the warm, generous, and hospitable reception, as well as [for] the excellent facilities extended to me and my entire delegation in the preparations for this visit, and ultimately for my arrival yesterday. The program speaks to the entrenched and far-reaching nature of the diplomatic relations which span 55 years, as it allows for interactions with development partners crucial to our socio-economic development in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with La Nina and El Nino currently affecting the Southern African region, exposed the entire world, where the Kingdom of Eswatini was not spared, in our incapacity to deal with such large-scale phenomenon. The lessons we learnt during this time and the assistance received from Taiwan have further cemented our relationship and have given us renewed hope that together we can still reach more uncharted ground in our relationship.

Taiwan has proven to be more than a political ally to the Kingdom of Eswatini but an undisputed development partner. It is upon this backdrop that the Kingdom of Eswatini will be fostering more collaboration with developmental partners in Taiwan to share the know-how on how Taiwan has been able to sustain itself in spite of the very harsh conditions which Taiwan [has] survived thus far.

Your Excellency, my visit comes on the back of a very recent successful state visit by His Majesty King Mswati III where a number of tangibles were achieved, and we wish to use this trip to cement some of those proposed collaborations. It would be a disservice, Your Excellency, as the head of government for the Kingdom of Eswatini, [for me] not to highlight concerns that were raised between yourself and His Majesty back in October on the challenges faced on some capital projects in the Kingdom.

In that regard, Your Excellency, I would like to reassure [you] that His Majesty's government worked tirelessly to find the root cause of the challenges faced by the International Convention Center (ICC), the FISH Project, and we have indeed changed our ways of operating to ensure that the challenges met before are no longer faced. We are assuring the President today that the new arrangements put in place by His Majesty's government have the appropriate checks and balances to see the project to its full fruition and showcase our beautiful relationship flourishing between our two countries for the world to see.

During our visit, Your Excellency, we will be visiting CECI Engineering Consultants as well as the Hsinchu Science Park. It is unfortunate that the COVID pandemic robed my office of the opportunity to see these establishments at an earlier date for ease of reference; however, I do hope that my visit will help me see full possibilities of the potential we have in our civil engineering collaboration, especially looking at the strides moved by CECI in Taiwan over the past 50 years of existence in Taiwan. CECI Engineering Consultants has shared their excellence with the Kingdom of Eswatini through the design and construction of the King Mswati III International Airport, the rehabilitation of the Outpatient Department of the Mbabane Government Hospital, as well as the ongoing Biotechnology and Innovation Parks at the Royal Science and Technology Park. I also hope to get an opportunity at the Hsinchu Science Park to experience how this park is brought to use in Taiwan and compare [that] with our experiences so far.

Good cordial relations that exist between our two countries have brought in tangible outcomes in the development of the Kingdom of Eswatini, especially in the rural development where our nationals have been assisted through rural electrification, agriculture, health, academic cooperation, [and] infrastructure, to mention but a few. Through the education collaboration, the Kingdom has benefited a well-educated workforce with exposure to [a] world class education system. The relatively new Africa Plan is likely to exponentially increase the number of Emaswati taking to Taiwan for education and work opportunities.

In conclusion, Your Excellency, allow me to reiterate our commitment as the Kingdom of Eswatini to stand in solidarity with the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the international fora through full advocacy for Taiwan to be admitted into the United Nations and its agencies. It is our wish to see the Republic of China Taiwan fully participate in international agencies to impart its knowledge and share milestones on development in issues that are affecting the world, including climate change, health, energy, and pollution. We are fully opposed to any sort of bullying or aggression by any country or state, as we believe people should maintain the freedom to choose how to be governed, and state sovereignty should be respected at all times, and the people of Taiwan should be governed within Taiwan by a government they elect themselves in their free and fair elections with no external pressure.

As this is my first trip to your beautiful island, I look forward to making new connections, enjoying the warm hospitality that the people of Taiwan are renowned for. 

The delegation also included Prime Minister's wife and Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Lomvula Hlophe, Economic Planning and Development Minister Dr. Thambo Gina, Principal Secretary Thabisile Mlangeni, and Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Bertram Stewart, and was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Eswatini Ambassador Promise Msibi.

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