I'm delighted to once again visit Paraguay, our most geographically distant ally. In these two days, I met with several heads and deputy heads of state, and in our conversations, we were often asked: "How long was your flight to Paraguay?" After comparing with our answers, I found that my flight from Taiwan is the longest. We flew nearly 12 hours from Taipei to Los Angeles, and another 12 hours from Los Angeles to Paraguay. Altogether it took us a whole day to get here. However, it is truly heart-warming and delightful to see our fellow countrymen here. Thank you for being with us this evening, and thank you for your love and support of Taiwan.
In addition to our expatriates from Asunción, I know that many people drove hours to get here from Ciudad del Este. Some also came from even more distant places like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and even Mexico. I'm grateful that so many expatriates spent so much time to come all the way to Paraguay to join us.
I remember that, I met with our expatriates on the same spot on my previous visit to Paraguay. I'm truly happy to meet with Taiwan's hard-working, dedicated expatriates abroad here.
Many of you also attended the last banquet here two years ago, and I want to thank you again for having travelled a long way from different parts of Latin America to be here. It heartens me every time I meet with overseas expatriates in different countries. So every time when I travel abroad, I always look forward to meeting Taiwanese expatriates in different countries.
Though our expatriates spend a long time living and working far from home, you always keep Taiwan close to your hearts. Getting together with you makes me feel I am with a big family. So this evening is another reunion of the Taiwanese extended family in Latin America, and I thank everyone from afar.
Paraguay is an important stop on my current trip. It's an honor to attend the inauguration of President Mario Abdo Benítez, and we extend best wishes to him. I also want to take the opportunity to thank outgoing President Horacio Cartes for his support of Taiwan.
Over the past few years, Taiwan-Paraguay relations have grown increasingly close, thanks in no small part to the concerted efforts of Taiwan's expatriates. Taiwan and Paraguay instituted reciprocal visa-free courtesies last year, an important step in spurring bilateral exchanges. The Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Paraguay also went into effect early this year, and Taiwan has continued to increase the import quota for Paraguayan beef. Paraguayan beef has become very popular in the Taiwan market.
We also have many members of the Taiwan Technical Mission with us this evening. They are the vanguards of our diplomatic force, and it is tough work, indeed. Taiwan has limited diplomatic space, but with our prowess in agriculture, science and technology, and medical care, we can pursue a uniquely Taiwanese diplomatic strategy and continue our contribution to the world.
In recent years, Taiwan has helped Paraguay promote projects to breed and cultivate Pacu fingerlings, cultivate orchids, and manage health information, thus making excellent progress. These projects are helping Paraguay's development, and broadening the global vision of Taiwan's technical talent. Over the past two years, we have been using this kind of mutually beneficial thinking to promote Taiwan's "steadfast diplomacy" policy.
Tonight with us, there is a person who deserves special mention. His name is Lin Yu Wei (林育葦). I think that everyone might have noticed a building designed to look like a soccer ball on your way to the banquet. This shows just how passionate the people of Paraguay are about soccer. With that same passion, Mr. Lin came to Paraguay by himself to pursue his "soccer dream," and along the journey there were certainly a lot of difficulties that only he himself knows about.
But Paraguayans are warm and friendly, and his coach and teammates treat him like family, caring for him and helping him train. Mr. Lin thus personifies the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay. I believe that someday we can see Yu Wei perform on a much bigger international stage, perhaps the next World Cup. So let's cheer him on.
Taiwan continues to pursue its own soccer dream, while Paraguay is already a world-class soccer player. Therefore Taiwan can learn a lot from Paraguay, and we will continue to encourage bilateral player exchanges. And now that Yu Wei has blazed a trail, more people will surely follow in his footsteps.
The ideals of our young people are Taiwan's ideals. We must support more young people like Yu Wei as they seek to pursue their own success in Latin America and many other places around the world. So I want to encourage all our expatriates here to help Taiwanese youth seek opportunities.
Opportunities abound throughout Latin America, and everyone is very aware of its potential. So Taiwan will continue to enhance diplomatic ties with Paraguay, and use Paraguay as an important gateway to build a stronger presence throughout Latin America.
All the expatriates here are spokespersons for Taiwan in Latin America. I want to urge each of you to work with the government to bring Taiwan and Latin America closer together so that Taiwan can participate in the development and growth of the Mercosur region.
No matter how great the challenges will be, or how numerous the difficulties ahead, Taiwan will continue to engage with the world. Let's join hands and offer mutual encouragement. This evening's banquet is our delegation's last event in Paraguay. I want to once again thank you for your enthusiastic welcome. Tomorrow, we be heading to Belize to continue Taiwan's diplomatic efforts. It's truly a pleasure to get together with you at the banquet, see some lively performances, and encourage each other. Thank you for joining me here today.