President Tsai meets Saint Lucia Minister of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation, and Diaspora Affairs Alva Baptiste

On the morning of March 14, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Alva R. Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation, and Diaspora Affairs of Saint Lucia. In remarks, President Tsai said that Taiwan-Saint Lucia cooperation has yielded fruitful results in a wide range of areas in recent years. President Tsai also stated that she hopes Taiwan and Saint Lucia continue to initiate even more cooperative programs in the spirit of mutual assistance and mutual benefit and generate even greater well-being and prosperity for both our peoples.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

I warmly welcome Minister Baptiste, Ms. Emily Leon, Minister Kenson Joel Casimir, and Senator Lisa C. Jawahir on your visit to Taiwan. Last November, Prime Minister Philip Pierre led a delegation on a state visit to Taiwan, during which we held extensive discussions. And this visit, after a gap of eight years, is Minister Baptiste's fourth trip to Taiwan. Your presence demonstrates the profound and steadfast diplomatic partnership between Taiwan and Saint Lucia and serves to further deepen cooperation and exchanges between our nations.

During my trip to Saint Lucia in 2019, I gained a better understanding of the Gros Islet Human Resource Development Centre and Government Island-wide Network projects. These initiatives have provided local young people with more resources and opportunities to learn.

In recent years, many Saint Lucian students have come to Taiwan for their studies. For example, 15 Saint Lucian students have graduated from the School of Medicine for International Students of I-Shou University. Having returned home and become doctors, they are now making contributions at home from what they learned here.

During this visit, Minister Baptiste will deliver a speech to young Taiwanese people and meet with Saint Lucian students. I believe this will do much to promote further exchanges in the field of education.

I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a special thanks to Minister Baptiste and Prime Minister Pierre for speaking out for Taiwan at numerous international venues and for supporting Taiwan's international participation. Please convey Taiwan's gratitude and highest regards to Prime Minister Pierre.

In recent years, Taiwan-Saint Lucia cooperation has yielded fruitful results in a wide range of areas. Going forward, I hope that Taiwan and Saint Lucia continue to initiate even more cooperative programs in the spirit of mutual assistance and mutual benefit. This can generate even greater well-being and prosperity for both our peoples.

Minister Baptiste then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:

Certainly, when I was approaching Taiwan, and I was looking at the island, it reminded me so much of my own island St. Lucia: almost shaped the same way. And even before I landed, I felt the warmth of the Taiwanese people. And when I landed, I was inspired by the progress that you have made.

I am truly inspired. When I looked into memory's eye when I landed, you know, I pictured Taiwan many decades ago, and I saw the massive socio-economic development that took place in Taiwan between the 1960s and the 1990s. Extensive growth. It averaged about 8.7 percent because of strategic reforms that you undertook in the economy of Taiwan; and Taiwan is now a giant. It is that type of progress and development that earned for Taiwan the title of "the Asian tiger." And undoubtedly, you have rivaled even more developed economies. When you look at your foreign exchange reserves, you can compete globally. You can compete with the UK, with France, and, of course, Germany. About the last time I checked it was in the vicinity of 548 billion. When I look at your trade surplus, for the first half of last year it was about 27.7 percent. And I look at your remarkable export to even your neighbor Mainland China, about 40 percent of your exports, and in terms of imports, about one fifth. And that in itself shows that you are a proud and resilient people. And this is why I have come to Taiwan today: to renew our commitment to our bilateral relations, one that with mutual respect and trust we can develop. You go to my country St. Lucia, [and] everybody knows the name of the Taiwanese Ambassador, because you are involved in people-to-people contact, and that is significant for the people of Taiwan and the people of St. Lucia to continue their relations outside of the framework of the political directorate. And when we look at the development of our country, it must not just be about political decisions; the political directorate must be one of the actors in the drama of development. And this is why good partners like Taiwan will always be in a very special place in my country.

And of course, whilst I was on the island prior to coming here, Madame President, I just reflected on the fact that we have just celebrated 44 years of independence. And of course, independence from alien rule always comes with certain responsibilities and imposes certain obligations. And I see how far that we have come in terms of evolving new economic instruments, and building new social institutions. And I look at our two Nobel Prize winners, one in economics and one in literature. And I think the structural changes we need to make to the economy must reflect a decent respect for those intellectual giants, in that I believe we should develop a model economy to pay homage to the father of development economics, Sir Arthur Lewis. And any society that is living must have a soul; and any society that's in decline, or is a dead society, the arts [are] also in decline. And no doubt we can use Derek [Walcott] to inspire confidence in the way forward.

And when I contemplate the future I see, by taking my mental flight into the future, I see the bonds of friendship strengthening between St. Lucia and Taiwan. I recall when I last came to Taiwan to open the embassy, and I was asked, How long? And I said, When you get married, you do not get married to be divorced. And therefore, we are here to continue to cooperate under our respective mandates to hand over [a] better tomorrow for humanity. As a politician, as the foreign minister from St. Lucia, I am very ambitious in terms of the structural changes that must be made to the economy to give our people opportunities that we never had. In fact, all what I do must create an improved framework for us to address the pressing but legitimate needs of the people of our country. And as we focus on common objectives of humanity, we will always look up to very important allies, like Taiwan, to join hands together and confront the challenges within the framework of our bilateral strength.

And as I prepare to close, I want to pay homage to your president, an individual who has shown distinction in the world of thought and practice, followed her journey, professionally and otherwise, a woman of integrity and a woman with which my prime minister will be honored to continue the political journey and to continue the development of our country as we strengthen that symbiotic relationship that currently exists between Taiwan and St. Lucia. And I thank you, the people of Taiwan, for ensuring that you create an environment where women are equal and valuable partners in development; and undoubtedly, undoubtedly this is positive, and this will all go well for the future of Taiwan. May God bless all of you, xie xie.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan)