Tsai kicks off Central America tour in Honduras
President Tsai Ing-wen commenced her nine-day trip to four Republic of China (Taiwan) diplomatic allies in Honduras Jan. 8, receiving a warm welcome from the country’s Vice President Ricardo Antonio Alvarez Arias at Soto Cano Air Base.
The aim of Tsai’s trip to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in that order is to boost diplomatic ties while strengthening bilateral economic and trade collaboration, according to the Office of the President.
It is a great honor to be invited to visit by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado, Tsai said, adding that the two countries enjoy close and friendly relations across a spectrum of areas dating back to the establishment of official ties 75 years ago.
Tsai is scheduled to hold talks with Hernandez at which they will discuss ways to bolster bilateral ties and exchange ideas on issues of mutual concern. Afterward, she will inspect cooperation programs like the One Town, One Product initiative aimed at spurring grassroots business activity.
At a reception attended by former participants in the Taiwan Scholarship Program, the president praised the initiative and said more than 300 students from Honduras have traveled to Taiwan and learned more about the country’s unique culture and lifestyle. It is hoped these people will play their part in strengthening the bonds of friendship between the two nations going forward, she added.
Hernandez and his daughter Ivonne have visited Taiwan. Months ago, Hernandez jogged in Daan Forest Park in Taipei City and rode on the Taipei metro. Tsai was deeply impressed with the fact that a head of state would experience firsthand the lifestyle of locals, according to the Office of the President.
Prior to touching down in Honduras, Tsai stopped over Jan. 7 in the U.S. city of Houston, meeting with a senior official from the American Institute in Taiwan and several U.S. politicians.
She was greeted by AIT Chairman James F. Moriarty, and later took part in a dinner banquet with Taiwan expatriates also attended by Moriarty and U.S. Reps. Blake Farenthold, Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee.
According to Tsai, the U.S. is Taiwan’s most important ally and friend, holding a very special place in the hearts of the people of Taiwan. Since she took office in May 2016, Tsai said Taiwan-U.S. ties have advanced across the areas of cultural exchanges, investment, security collaboration, tourism and trade, adding that Taiwan is the ninth largest trading partner of the U.S. and provides directly or indirectly more than 320,000 jobs for the American people.
Examples of this solid relationship include a record 1.1 million visitors between two sides last year, as well as the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the U.S. Congress calling for senior two-way military exchanges to promote regional peace and stability.
The president said none of these achievements could be possible without the support of the U.S. executive and legislative branches, and that Taipei will continue working with Washington to expand mutual benefits and uphold the values shared by the two sides.
During Tsai’s stay in Houston, she also met with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Gov. Greg Abbot. Taiwan companies have invested more than US$10 billion in Texas, she said, with the U.S. state holding an edge in biotechnology, defense industries, energy and smart machinery. These areas overlap with the five major innovative industries the government is promoting in Taiwan, and there will be more opportunities for both sides to work even closer in the future, Tsai said in a statement released on the official state government website.
This is Tsai’s second trip abroad after assuming office May 20, 2016. Highlights include attending the Jan. 10 inauguration ceremony of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at his invitation; touring the UNESCO World Heritage Site Antigua Guatemala; and leading a fact-finding tour of coffee plantations in El Salvador.
In June last year, Tsai attended the inauguration ceremony of the Panama Canal expansion project, followed by a visit to Paraguay. The president is scheduled to return to Taiwan Jan. 15 after a stopover in San Francisco.
Source: Taiwan Today (http://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=2&post=106938)