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President Tsai meets Minister of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs Simon Robert Kofe of Tuvalu
President Tsai meets Minister of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs Simon Robert Kofe of Tuvalu

On the morning of June 2, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Minister of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs Simon Robert Kofe of Tuvalu and Mrs. Kofe. In remarks, President Tsai thanked the people and government of Tuvalu for supporting Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO). The president states that she looks forward to furthering cooperation across many areas and pursuing prosperity and development together.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

I would like to begin by welcoming Minister Kofe and Mrs. Kofe back to Taiwan. I am delighted that Minister Kofe is leading a delegation to Taiwan now that the COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding and Tuvalu has reopened its borders.

I want to take this opportunity to convey a special thanks to Minister Kofe for taking concrete actions to support Taiwan's international participation during the United Nations Ocean Conference last June. We also saw Tuvalu once again speak up for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly last month.

Many Tuvaluan officials and citizens joined the special walking campaign held by our embassy in Tuvalu to support our participation in the WHO. We were deeply moved by these gestures. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I express our deepest gratitude to everyone in Tuvalu. 

Taiwan and Tuvalu engage in close exchanges in medicine and public health, and our cooperation in such fields as agriculture, education, and energy has achieved fruitful results. Our two nations are also actively collaborating on information and communications technology in pursuit of national digitalization.

While facing the challenges of climate change, Minister Kofe made a deep impression on the world by recording an address for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) while standing knee-deep in seawater. Working with the international community, Taiwan will continue to promote climate mitigation and adaptation plans and assist Tuvalu in building a resilient response system.

Indeed, Taiwan and Tuvalu will continue to deepen cooperation across many areas. As part of Minister Kofe's visit, our nations will be signing three official documents to advance mutual legal assistance in criminal affairs, diplomatic staff training, and technical cooperation.

As Minister Kofe has emphasized, relations between nations must be based upon shared values and mutual respect. Taiwan and Tuvalu share the values of freedom and democracy and cherish each other's unwavering friendship. Going forward, we will continue to pursue prosperity and development together.

Minister Kofe then delivered remarks, conveying the heartfelt greetings of both the government and the people of Tuvalu to the government and people of Taiwan and expressing his deepest gratitude for the exceptional hospitality and impeccable arrangements. He also said that he is grateful for this opportunity to exchange thoughts and insights with the president on various topics that hold significance for our countries.

Minister Kofe said that Tuvalu and Taiwan share a strong and friendly relationship that has been strengthened by a shared commitment to the protection and preservation of sovereignty, upholding democratic principles, and promoting regional stability, economic development, and environmental sustainability. He explained that Taiwan has been an important partner in supporting Tuvalu's developmental aspirations ever since diplomatic relations between our two countries were established in 1979, following Tuvalu's independence from Britain. He added that our partnership serves as a testament to the value and strength of collaboration between our two nations.

Minister Kofe expressed his belief that the partnership between Tuvalu and Taiwan can serve as a model partnership, since it is not merely defined by the objectives it achieves, but more importantly by the values that guide its approach. And more than aiming for tangible outcomes, he said, such a partnership also seeks to foster a sense of shared identity and purpose, promoting a diplomatic culture that values mutual respect, shared responsibility, and global well-being.

Minister Kofe then pointed out that Tuvalu is a society that places a strong emphasis on community values, and that its constitution recognizes that the preservation of Tuvaluan culture and tradition is crucial to the stability and well-being of the Tuvaluan people. He added that values such as respect, collective responsibility, consensus building, and community well-being are central to Tuvaluan society and form its very foundation. Minister Kofe stated that the interconnectedness of our world has made it more important than ever to prioritize community well-being and collective responsibility in addressing global challenges. He also voiced his firm belief that in the current global context, where the actions of one nation can have far-reaching consequences on the entire world, it is essential to adopt a new perspective and approach to resolving conflicts and other global challenges. Tuvalu's foreign policy, he said, aims to appeal to global leaders and inspire a new era of cooperation, dialogue, and diplomacy in pursuit of a more prosperous and equitable world for humanity.

Minister Kofe said that Taiwan faces challenges as a nation that is at the very forefront of a global power struggle and geopolitical competition, and that as a friend, Tuvalu is concerned about the constant aggression and threats posed by China to Taiwan. He then reiterated to President Tsai that Tuvalu stands with Taiwan through the good and hard times, that it will continue to promote peaceful solutions, and that it is committed to building bridges between nations to promote a more collaborative approach to addressing global issues.

The delegation also included Acting Permanent Secretary of Education, Youth and Sports Niuone Eliuta and was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Tuvalu Ambassador Bikenibeu Paeniu.

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