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Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, left, and  President of Taiwan, Lai Ching-te hold talks in Taiwan on May 21, 2024. (Photo: Office of the President, Taiwan.)
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, left, and President of Taiwan, Lai Ching-te hold talks in Taiwan on May 21, 2024. (Photo: Office of the President, Taiwan.)
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Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves has told the newly inaugurated President of Taiwan, Lai Ching-te in Taipei that the relationship between both countries is “an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken”.

Gonsalves led a delegation to Lai’s inauguration last Saturday and during a bilateral meeting on Tuesday, he restated his government’s commitment to Kingstown-Taipei ties.

The Vincentian leader had opposed Kingstown-Taipei ties before coming to office in March 2001 but has maintained the diplomatic relations, which has remained unbroken since they were established in 1981.

Gonsalves said that his Unity Labour Party administration remains committed to the Kingstown-Taipei ties, eight years after the opposition New Democratic Party said if elected to office, it would establish relations with Beijing in place of Taipei.

In April 2023, Gonsalves said the EC$577.9 million that SVG owes Taiwan —  EC$100 more than was the case nine months earlier — “put a hook in the gill of anybody” in SVG who wants to break the diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

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In his remarks this week, the prime minister said that the relationship between SVG and Taiwan has been a very strategic one based on clear principles and a genuine love for each other.

He said SVG does not practice a foreign policy with a “for sale” sign, metaphorically, in its diplomatic window, hence, blandishments, from whatever source, would not trouble the relationship.

SVG and Taiwan have been engaged in many important infrastructure projects of benefit to SVG,  Gonsalves said, adding that Taiwan’s generosity in this regard has been well-known to the people of his country. 

Gonsalves, however, said that in his view, the people-to-people ties that have developed between both countries, whether through students, farmers, or women’s empowerment are far more important.

These, he said, represent unwritten memorials in the hearts and minds of the people, adding that there are many initiatives which continue to roll on, many current and many of them prospective.

Gonsalves thanked Lai for taking time out to meet with him and warmly welcoming him and his delegation. He also invited Lai to visit SVG.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Lai noted that Gonsalves was visiting Taiwan for the 12th time since becoming prime minister. 

He said that in recent years exchanges between Taiwan and SVG have grown closer. 

“Our cooperation in such areas as infrastructure development, agriculture, public health, and information and communications technology has been very fruitful,” the newly-inaugurated president said.

“Our two countries not only supported each other during the pandemic, but we also continued to deepen collaboration in important areas including post-pandemic recovery, women’s empowerment, and youth employment, caring for the well-being of our peoples and enhancing our diplomatic partnership.”

Lai said that the people and government of SVG promptly offered condolences and humanitarian aid after Taiwan’s earthquake early last month. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my utmost appreciation,” he said, adding that SVG has shown great concern and support for Taiwan, including in the international arena. 

“For instance, Prime Minister Gonsalves has voiced strong support for Taiwan’s international participation at the United Nations General Assembly, and his government has spoken up for Taiwan at international venues, including at the World Health Assembly.”

The Taiwan president expressed hope that both countries will continue working together in the international arena to contribute even more to global prosperity and development. 

Gonsalves led a seven-member delegation to Taiwan, comprised of his wife, Eloise Gonsalves, Head of the Prime Ministerial Youth Advisory Council Ansom Latchman, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Shackell Bobb, Rodan John, Press Officer Shevrell Macmillan and Prime Minister’s Security Officer Irwin Adams.

The delegation was joined in Taipei by SVG Ambassador to Taiwan, Andrea Bowman.