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President Tsai's 2019 visit to Palau, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands

Purpose and achievements

President Tsai's 2019 visit to Palau, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands

Purpose

Pursuing head of state diplomacy and enhancing high-level friendships with our allies have been major diplomatic tasks for successive administrations, and are also the current administration’s most important tasks in promoting "steadfast diplomacy" and consolidating diplomatic relationships. Since the 2017 trip under the "Sustainable Austronesia, Working Together for a Better Future" theme, when President Tsai led a delegation to visit three Pacific allies—the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands—the heads of state of our diplomatic allies Palau and Nauru have extended multiple invitations to President Tsai to visit their countries. Leading a delegation on state visits gives the president a chance to see and experience things first-hand, and thus understand regional development needs, which in turn fosters mutually beneficial cooperation and enhances mutual trust and consensus. This has positive benefits for bilateral relations between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies, and the president has long wanted to visit Taiwan's Pacific allies again. So from March 21-26, 2019 she led a delegation to Palau and Nauru, and then continued on to the Marshall Islands on March 26 to attend the Pacific Women Leaders' Coalition Conference. On the way home, the delegation made a stopover in Honolulu.

During this trip, the delegation received high-level courtesies and treatment from Taiwan's diplomatic allies. Palau President and Mrs. Remengesau Jr., as well as Nauru President and Mrs. Waqa, accompanied the delegation during almost the entire itinerary in their respective countries. Marshall Islands President Hilda C. Heine and her husband, Mr. Kijiner, personally received President Tsai on her arrival at the airport, and sent her off upon departure. The trip went smoothly, with many achievements.

The delegation included Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), Minister Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興) of the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Icyang Parod (夷將‧拔路兒), Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), and National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥).

Itinerary

 

Achievements

The sea and democracy are two things that Taiwan and its diplomatic allies have in common. Taiwan excels at giving the people of its diplomatic allies direct assistance in areas like agriculture, fisheries, medical care & public health, and education. By tapping into Taiwan’s professional expertise and providing aid through "steadfast diplomacy based on mutual assistance for mutual benefits," Taiwan enhances substantive cooperation with its diplomatic allies and ensures that the world sees more clearly than ever that Taiwan—beyond being "a democratic success story, a reliable partner, a force for good in the world, and a model of democracy in the Indo-Pacific region"—is also willing and able to contribute more to the international community.

 

During this overseas trip, the president held bilateral talks with the heads of state of three different countries, which included a wide-ranging exchange of views about the direction of future cooperation. The three heads of state all thanked Taiwan for implementing cooperative programs together over the years that support their national policy priorities, and affirmed that bilateral diplomatic ties have spurred economic and social development on both sides.

 

Taiwan, like all of its Pacific allies, is an island surrounded by vast expanses of ocean. So it is Taiwan’s responsibility and obligation to jointly protect maritime security and maritime resource sustainability, issues that are also of great concern for many Pacific island nations. During this trip, President Tsai witnessed the signing of coast guard cooperation agreements with both Palau and Nauru. Taiwan will assist both countries in cultivating maritime law enforcement personnel and building up their search and rescue capabilities. In the future, Taiwan will develop mutually beneficial relationships with its Pacific allies on maritime governance and security issues.

 

To highlight Taiwan's cultural ties with its Pacific allies, the president's delegation included Icyang Parod, Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples. Taiwan re-launched the Austronesian Forum last year and chose Palau as its headquarters, and recently, passed a six-year work plan for the forum. This coming September, Taiwan and the United States will hold a workshop on the restoration of Austronesian languages under the auspices of their Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), and under the aforementioned six-year work plan will work together to preserve and revitalize Austronesian culture. Taiwan has set its sights on pursing deeper exchanges with Austronesian nations, including its Pacific allies, and will work to develop Austronesian culture.

 

During the course of this trip, President Tsai and Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. witnessed Taiwan's Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital donation of medical equipment to the Belau National Hospital. And while the president's delegation was in Nauru, the president visited and encouraged an orthopedics team from Taichung Veterans General Hospital providing volunteer medical services there. In the Marshall Islands, President Heine took advantage of her bilateral meeting with President Tsai to praise Taiwan for what it has done to improve the quality of medical care in her country, and expressed hope that Taiwan can expand its medical internship program in the Marshall Islands.

 

During her trip, President Tsai visited Taiwan's technical missions in Palau and Nauru, and saw how, through technical cooperation, our mission personnel are using their expertise to help our diplomatic allies develop their agriculture and livestock industries. The president also attended the inauguration ceremony for the Taiwan Technical Mission's agriculture and livestock education center in Nauru. This education center will be an important institution for training local talent and ensuring the sustainability of Nauru's agriculture and livestock sectors. And the "Taiwan-Marshall Islands Women Business Start-up Small Loan Revolving Fund" promises to become an important tool for ensuring success in the two countries' technical and vocational training project, so that more people can make use of what they've studied and contribute to national economic development.

 

Taiwan's own experience has shown that women's participation in entrepreneurism and the job market does indeed contribute to social stability while spurring economic growth. The Revolving Fund cited above will create an entrepreneur-friendly environment for women in the Marshall Islands and work in tandem with the various training programs that Taiwan provides. In addition to reflecting Taiwan’s concrete contributions to women's empowerment in the Marshall Islands, the fund also helps women realize their aspirations and injects new vitality into society and the economy, which is why Palau President Remengesau has also expressed interest in this project.

 
  • The United States gave the Taiwan delegation high-level courtesies and treatment during its stopover in Hawaii, reflecting close and friendly bilateral ties: The US hosts—based on the long-standing principles of safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity—gave the delegation high-level treatment during entry and exit at the airport, as well as in its security and hospitality arrangements. American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James F. Moriarty personally received President Tsai when she arrived at the airport, sent her off when she departed, and accompanied her throughout the entire stopover. The US also once again allowed the delegation's traveling press corps to conduct interviews and file news reports during the stopover, showing just how close Taiwan-US ties are.
  • President Tsai's warm interactions with federal and local government officials in Hawaii continued to strengthen US support for Taiwan: Hawaii Governor David Ige and Mrs. Ige greeted President Tsai at the airport on her arrival in Honolulu. Scott Saiki (Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives) and J. Kalani English (Hawaiian Senate Majority Leader) both attended a dinner banquet with Taiwanese expatriates in Hawaii, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell personally accompanied President Tsai on a trip to the beach in a gesture of welcome and respect. The president also took part in a livestreamed special policy dialogue with the Heritage Foundation, exchanging views with Dr. Edwin Feulner (Heritage Foundation founder), Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO; Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy under the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL; the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Committee on Foreign Affairs). President Tsai also spoke by phone with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)). These interactions all strengthened US support for Taiwan.
  • President Tsai visited the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to enhance bilateral cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief: Hawaii National Guard Adjutant General Major General Arthur Logan guided President Tsai on her tour of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. This visit highlighted and enhanced bilateral cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • President Tsai visited the East-West Center to attend the opening of a special exhibition for the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), and to celebrate the enduring friendship between Taiwan and the United States: This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the TRA by the US Congress. The event was jointly held by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, the American Institute in Taiwan, and the East-West Center to call attention to the important role of the TRA in maintaining Taiwan-US relations, and attest to the longstanding friendship between the two sides over the past 40 years.

 

 
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