Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and President Tsai in Taiwan in October 2016.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, met with a delegation led by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves and his wife, Eloise Gonsalves, on Tuesday.

On behalf of the government and people of Taiwan, Tsai welcomed and thanked Gonsalves for coming to Taiwan a 10th time as the head of a delegation, and expressed hope that the already friendly relations between the two countries will further grow and flourish, the Office of the President, Taiwan said in a press statement on Thursday.

Tsai noted that Taiwan and SVG marked the 35th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations just this past August. This visit to Taiwan by Gonsalves and his delegation to attend Taiwan’s National Day celebrations, the president said, clearly demonstrates to the people of Taiwan that the SVG government takes Taiwan seriously and values its friendship. Noting that SVG was hit hard this past September by Hurricane Matthew, the president took the opportunity to extend condolences and express her sincere hope that those affected can get their lives back to normal as soon as possible.

Describing SVG as Taiwan’s most loyal diplomatic ally in the eastern Caribbean region, Tsai congratulated Prime Minister Gonsalves for leading his Unity Labour Party to victory in the general elections of December 2015.

SVG and Taiwan flags line the boulevard outside the presidential office in Taiwan.
SVG and Taiwan flags line the boulevard outside the presidential office in Taiwan.

The president noted that this marked the fourth consecutive time Gonsalves has been elected as prime minister, and by the time he completes his current term he will have become the longest-serving incumbent prime minister anywhere in the Caribbean and Latin American regions, and one of the most senior heads of stateleaders in the world, which is a truly remarkable achievement, she said.

Tsai also thanked Gonsalves for conveying congratulations immediately after the announcement of the result of Taiwan’s presidential election earlier this year, and for sending SVG’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Louis Straker, as his envoy to attend the inauguration ceremony on May 20, which fully showed the depth of the bilateral friendship.

Tsai stated that the government and people of SVG have long supported Taiwan in its efforts to participate in the activities of United Nations specialised agencies and other international bodies. In particular, ever since taking office in 2001, Gonsalves has spoken in defense of f Taiwan each year at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, and this past August he sent a letter to the president of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to support Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO Assembly.

Prime Minister Gonsalves and President Tsai.
Prime Minister Gonsalves and President Tsai.

Tsai pointed out that Taiwan and SVG enjoy stable diplomatic relations, and cooperation projects are yielding excellent results in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture, medical care, education, and culture. In addition, at SVG’s largest infrastructure project currently underway — the Argyle International Airport Project — the terminal building was built by Taiwan’s Overseas Engineering & Construction Company. The airport is scheduled to begin operations late this year, for which Tsai extended her congratulations and said that it makes her feel proud to be a faithful partner in SVG’s infrastructure development undertakings.

Tsai mentioned that it was 2004 when Taiwan first started offering scholarships for youth from SVG to study in Taiwan, and 126 SVG young people have sp far enrolled in degree programmes in Taiwan, which has done much to bring about closer ties between the people of the two countries.

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In fact, three of Gonsalves’ children have studied Chinese in Taiwan, and his niece is studying here now. The president encouraged the prime minister’s children to come back and pursue further education in Taiwan.

Tsai stressed that Taiwan highly values its friendly diplomatic ties and close cooperation with SVG, and expressed hope that bilateral relations will grow closer and continue to flourish.