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From left: Taiwan Ambassador to SVG, Fiona Huei Chun Fan, Eloise Gonsalves, wife of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, PM Gonsalves, and SVG's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Keisal Peters, at the Taiwan National Day celebrations in Kingstown on Oct. 9, 2023. (API photo)
From left: Taiwan Ambassador to SVG, Fiona Huei Chun Fan, Eloise Gonsalves, wife of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, PM Gonsalves, and SVG’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Keisal Peters, at the Taiwan National Day celebrations in Kingstown on Oct. 9, 2023. (API photo)
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St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is punching above its weight on the global political stage, says Taiwan Ambassador to Kingstown, Fiona Huei Chun Fan.

Fan said at Taiwan’s National Day celebrations in Kingstown that in the 85 days since she arrived in SVG, she has observed “a level of international representation exceeding the size of the country. 

“Taiwan deeply appreciates the unwavering support of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in various international arenas, especially in the campaign for participation in the United Nations and its specialised agencies including WHO, ICAO, and UNFCCC,” she said.

The ambassador applauded Prime Minister of SVG, Ralph Gonsalves for his leadership and recognition of the power of diplomacy for Taiwan’s inclusion in specialised agencies of the UN. 

She said Gonsalves’ call, in September, for Taiwan’s inclusion at the UN General Assembly has been significantly impactful. 

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In August 2022, Gonsalves decided to travel to Taiwan, as scheduled, despite military exercises by China near the island in response to a visit to Taipei by then Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nanci Pelosi.

Fan said Gonsalves’ “powerful display of support was greatly appreciated and has won the respect of Taiwanese people”.

She said that as Taiwan celebrates its friendship with SVG, it is essential to underscore Taipei’s commitment to fostering even greater cooperation between the two nations. 

Fan noted that the diplomatic relationship, which was established in 1981, has borne fruit in various fields adding that there is much more that both countries can achieve together.

Meanwhile, speaking at the event, Gonsalves reaffirmed this country’s commitment to Kingstown-Taiwan ties, saying it is a strategic relationship of real solidarity and friendship. 

“This is not a transactional relationship…this is something for all time,” the prime minister said, noting that the opposition has said that it would sever ties with Taiwan and establish diplomatic links with China.

“I’m calling on those who have abandoned this relationship [with Taiwan] to come back to the fold,” the prime minister said, adding in a strategic partnership there has to be fundamental loyalty. 

“This loyalty is demonstrated in real life and living, since the founding father of this nation established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) this relationship has gone on from strength to strength.”

Gonsalves said Taiwan has moved from a backward developing status to one of the top economies in the world, adding, “… they are an example to us…

“They like us, are seeking to build democratic societies internally,” Gonsalves said, adding, “… we have to learn from this ancient civilisation”.

He said there is “a one China civilisation, not a one China policy…

“And we hold the view that any great civilisation, including the magnificent Chinese civilisation, can possess more than one legitimate political expression organised as a state.” 

He said SVG  works with the People’s Republic of China on the international front but said Beijing will not cause SVG to abandon Taiwan, “a nation in which we are well pleased..

“What we need most of all and what we are working for all the time at the United Nations and elsewhere is for peace across the Taiwan straits,” Gonsalves said.  

Taiwan’s contribution to SVG includes in the areas of education, infrastructural development, social development, agriculture and health and security.

PM Gonsalves further pointed out that Taiwan  made extraordinary contributions to the Argyle International Airport. 

“Without the AIA, we would not have the expansion of tourism we are having and when you get a job at Sandals, know that one of the reasons why you have that job is because of the AIA and because we have Taiwan supporting us,” the prime minister said.

The Prime Minister also commented on Taiwan’s contribution to the Rabacca Bridge. 

“When your property across the [Rabacca] river increases in value, remember Taiwan because the banks hardly wanted to give anybody mortgages to build houses or mortgages with severe restraints and conditions, but now, they treat the property over there like anywhere in SVG because of the Rabacca Bridge,” Gonsalves said.