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President Tsai's 2018 visit to Paraguay and Belize

Purpose and achievements

President Tsai's 2018 visit to Paraguay and Belize

Purpose

Elections for president of the Republic of Paraguay, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan in South America, were successfully held on April 22, 2018. Mario Abdo Benitez and his running mate Hugo Velazquez, nominees of the ruling Colorado Party, were elected and sworn in as president and vice president on August 15. President Abdo Benitez twice wrote to President Tsai Ing-wen to invite her to attend his inauguration ceremony in Paraguay. In response to President Abdo Benitez's enthusiastic invitation, and in order to enhance interactions with Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the region, the president led a delegation to Paraguay to convey her congratulations. She also made a state visit to Taiwan's Central American diplomatic ally Belize.

The president's trip lasted from August 12 through 20, 2018. She passed through Los Angeles on her way to Latin America and through Houston on her way back. In order to solidify diplomatic ties, increase engagement with the international community, and enhance bilateral cooperative relations with Paraguay and Belize, President Tsai, besides using "head of state diplomacy" to deepen friendship with these two diplomatic partners, also toured cooperative projects carried out by Taiwan and its diplomatic allies. She took steps to strengthen economic and trade ties and cooperation with these two countries, promoting the government's "steadfast diplomacy." In addition, during visit to Paraguay and Belize and transit in the US, the president held banquets for expatriates to commend them on their long-term efforts and contributions to our overseas community affairs work, and to give encouragement to all Taiwanese who are striving to succeed abroad.

Itinerary (Based on local times)

 

Achievements

In Paraguay and Belize, President Tsai shared frank discussions with the leaders of the countries and exchanged opinions about issues of mutual concern. The president also interacted and renewed friendships with Latin American heads of state, deputy heads of state, and special ambassadors from friendly countries while she was attending the inauguration ceremony of President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay.

During this nine-day, eight-night journey, President Tsai witnessed in person the needs of these diplomatic allies, and the current state of cooperative projects conducted by Taiwan and its diplomatic allies in healthcare, agricultural technology, and technical training. These projects successfully put into practice the idea of "mutual assistance for mutual benefits." That demonstrates to Taiwan citizens that we do not bow to hardship or pressure, but remain determined to engage with the international community.

In addition, the delegation received high-level treatment while transiting in the US. The itinerary was broadly covered by both the traveling press corps and by local US media, enabling people at home and abroad to witness and understand the close partnership between Taiwan and the US. The smooth visit yielded many achievements. The accomplishments of this journey included the following:

President Tsai received high-level treatment and receptions from Taiwan's diplomatic allies, and had in-depth exchanges of opinions about issues of shared concern with the heads of state of Paraguay and Belize. In Paraguay, President Tsai built up deep mutual trust with newly elected Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, successfully utilizing head of state diplomacy to solidify diplomatic ties. In addition, the president interacted with and cultivated friendships with Latin American heads of state, deputy heads of state, and envoys from friendly countries who were attending the inauguration ceremony of President Abdo Benitez. This will help enhance bilateral relations in the future. During her state visit to Belize, President Tsai met several times with Governor-General Colville Young, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Erlington. She also attended banquets held in her honor by the Governor-General and the Prime Minister, respectively, and received a decoration from the Governor-General.

 

Four members from the ruling and opposition parties in the Legislative Yuan joined the delegation and interacted with parliamentarians from Belize. They also accompanied President Tsai as she addressed the Belize National Assembly. In her speech, President Tsai deftly quoted the Belizean expression "Not everything that has sugar is sweet" to demonstrate that the firm friendship between the two countries is resistant to external interference. Her message resonated with those in attendance, as Taiwan effectively used parliamentary diplomacy to explore and enhance interactions and cooperative relations with its diplomatic allies.

 

The delegation was joined by deputy ministers of the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, as well as representatives from the fields of infrastructure and business. Through bilateral talks, delegation members gained a first-hand understanding of Taiwan's diplomatic allies' niche strengths. Their purpose was to combine both government resources and the power of private enterprises to expand bilateral cooperation and investment in our diplomatic allies, particularly in agriculture, industry, and infrastructure. It will also help domestic enterprises in Taiwan expand their global presence.

 

Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong, who was with the delegation, acted on behalf of Acer and ASUS in donating computers to students in the countries visited. As part of efforts to help its allies nurture human resources for industrial development and to deepen people-to-people exchanges and relations, Taiwan has established the Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University, and expanded scholarship programs and vocational training opportunities.

 

President Tsai's visit to Paraguay and Belize received positive coverage from the local and international media. This has helped Taiwan elevate its global image. While attending the inauguration ceremony for Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, President Tsai interacted with various heads of state from Latin America who were also in attendance, thereby raising Taiwan's international visibility, and strengthening Taiwan’s friendly relations with countries in the region. President Tsai conveyed to diplomatic allies Taiwan's resolve to maintain bilateral ties, and demonstrated Taiwan's determination to proactively engage with the international community, and not to bow to hardship or pressure.

 

President Tsai received an enthusiastic welcome from overseas compatriots in every country she visited, showing that expatriates are very supportive of Taiwan. The president commended the spirit and accomplishments of expatriates, Taiwanese business people, diplomatic and technical aid personnel, and young men doing alternative military service in those countries. All these people have been working hard overseas over a long period of time, and have contributed to the establishment of a foundation for relations between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies.

 
  • Delegation received high-level treatment in the US, and traveling press corps received permission to report from the US:During the transit stops in the US, the delegation received high-level treatment that accorded with the principles of "safety, convenience, comfort, and dignity." Also, after pre-trip negotiations and communications between Taiwan and the US, the US permitted Taiwan media accompanying the delegation to do reports during the stopovers. This enabled people at home and abroad to witness and understand the close relations between Taiwan and the US.
  • Strengthened shared values and substantive links between Taiwan and the US:The US showed goodwill by arranging all sorts of activities during the stopovers, signaling a steady progress in Taiwan-US relations. During her transit stop in Los Angeles, President Tsai visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and made public remarks in front of a Berlin Wall exhibit. This highlighted that the Taiwan-US relationship is based on the solid foundation of their shared commitment to the values of freedom and democracy. During her transit stop in Houston, she visited the NASA Space Center and the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute, and attended a business roundtable with representatives of Taiwanese companies operating in Texas and the surrounding area. These actions will help promote economic and trade ties between Taiwan and the US, as well as cooperation and exchanges in aerospace, medical technology, and the energy industry.
  • Lively interactions with leading members of Congress and local government leaders:Many US Congresspeople took substantial actions to express their support for Taiwan-US relations. For example, Cory Gardner (R-CO), chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy (of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), made a special trip to Los Angeles to meet with President Tsai, while Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Brad Sherman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific (of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs), both personally attended the banquet for overseas compatriots, expressing the US Congress' strong support for Taiwan. In addition, heavyweight Congressmen such as Paul Ryan (R-WI), speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere (of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), expressed their best wishes by phone. Key political figures including New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also made special trips to meet with President Tsai, demonstrating Taiwan's deep friendship with local governments in the US.
  • Enthusiastic welcomes from overseas compatriots and unprecedented number of attendees at expatriate banquets:President Tsai was enthusiastically welcomed by expatriates during her transit stops in Los Angeles and Houston. The president hosted two expatiate banquets that were both well attended, with over 1,000 participants each. This shows the warm feelings and strong support those expatriates have for Taiwan.

 

 
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