President Tsai Ing-wen met on the afternoon of May 20 with Paraguay President Horacio Cartes, the Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council, Dominican Republic Minister of Foreign Affairs Andres Navarro Garcia, congratulatory delegations from Europe, and a select delegation from the United States. President Tsai expressed sincere thanks and extended a warm welcome to all of her guests for coming to Taiwan to attend the inaugural activities for our 14th-term president and vice president.
During her meeting with Paraguay President Cartes, President Tsai stated that over the past few years, under his leadership, Paraguay has had many achievements. It has actively built up infrastructure, expanded its economic and trade reach, attracted foreign investment, upgraded the quality of public services, and reduced the government's fiscal burdens, creating a win-win-win situation for the government, business, and people of Paraguay. President Cartes also has a broad international perspective, she said, and has expanded Paraguay's international relations with outstanding results.
President Tsai then stated that, although Taiwan and Paraguay are geographically far apart, this has not affected their deep and abiding friendship. Especially as we approach the 60th anniversary of Taiwan-Paraguay diplomatic relations in 2017, such long-term, friendly, and frequent bilateral cooperation is truly gratifying. She also thanked President Cartes for speaking up on Taiwan's behalf at the United Nations General Assembly for three years in a row since taking office in 2013. President Tsai then expressed hope that in the future, Paraguay will continue to support Taiwan and deepen bilateral economic, trade, and technological exchanges and cooperation.
During President Tsai's meeting with Japan's 520 Congratulatory Delegation, led by Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council Vice Chairman Seishiro Eto (Member of the House of the Representatives), she noted that the smooth and peaceful process of the 2016 presidential and legislative elections shows that Taiwan's democracy has already matured. President Tsai then thanked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida for their positive comments about Taiwan's election results in parliamentary interpellations and public statements.
The president pointed out that Taiwan and Japan, as key partners and valued friends with close ties, share the same fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and free economy. The new administration will continue to strengthen mutual trust and exchanges with Japan based on the solid existing foundation, seek cooperation to address external political situations, and engage in negotiations on important issues in a peaceful and rational manner.
The president then stated that, on May 6 of this year, Taiwan's parliament established a cross-party Taiwan-Japan parliamentary friendship group led by Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chuyan (蘇嘉全). Over 90% of legislators have joined the group, demonstrating the importance that our members of parliament place on our relationship with Japan. President Tsai then said that going forward, she has high hopes that exchanges between the two legislatures will continue to enhance bilateral friendship and interaction.
In her meeting with Dominican Republic Minister of Foreign Affairs Navarro Garcia, President Tsai made a point to offer congratulations to Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina and Vice President Margarita Maria Cedeno Lizardo on their recent re-election.
President Tsai remarked that the Dominican Republic and Taiwan have had formal diplomatic relations for over 70 years, and have worked together to promote numerous cooperative projects. Those projects include significant achievements such as a vocational training center, the Center for Comprehensive Care for the Disabled (Centro de Atencion Integral para la Discapacidad, CAID), and the 911 Emergency Response Center. As concrete examples of close bilateral cooperation, in recent years Taiwan's footwear and solar energy enterprises have also undertaken large-scale investment projects in the Dominican Republic, contributing to its economic prosperity. The president also expressed hope that Taiwan and the Dominican Republic will continue to jointly promote more projects that benefit people's livelihood, and thereby deepen the relationship between the two countries.
Meeting with the congratulatory delegations from Europe, President Tsai noted that exchanges and cooperation in all fields between Taiwan, the European Union (EU), and individual countries in Europe have continued to grow over the past few years. The EU is Taiwan's fifth-largest trading partner, European enterprises are Taiwan's largest source of foreign investment, and Taiwan has frequent exchanges and close cooperation with individual EU member states in the fields of economics and trade, technology, culture, education, and academics. Mutual cooperation has also led to the signing of numerous agreements, protocols, and memorandums of understanding. The president went on to say that Taiwan is very grateful for the friendship evinced by these positive interactions, and looks forward to continuing efforts from Taiwan and EU member states to build a high-quality partnership of mutual assistance for mutual benefit.
President Tsai also mentioned that last October the European Commission announced its "Trade for All－Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy," which indicated that the Commission will deliberate on opening investment-related negotiations with Taiwan. This was an important step toward a Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement (BIA).
Addressing the prospects for cooperation between Taiwan and European countries, the president stated that given the current globalization process, Europe is an important region with many opportunities for cooperation. The government will therefore seek to strengthen mutual exchanges in the fields of innovation, high technology, and green energy. It will also increase interaction between young people and non-governmental organizations. As Taiwan confronts significant economic challenges, European efforts to promote new energy sources and competitive agriculture may become a valuable point of reference. President Tsai hopes that by upgrading multilateral economic and trade exchanges, Taiwan and European countries can fully expand cooperation in such fields.
President Tsai, reprising statements from her inaugural address earlier that day, said that Taiwan will work to reduce tensions arising from regional conflicts. One example is the South China Sea, where in the future, Taiwan hopes to engage in dialogue with different parties with the purpose of finding diplomatic solutions. Taiwan is also committed to following international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and respecting the freedom of navigation and overflight. In addition, Taiwan will continue its efforts to promote meaningful participation in important international organizations, she stated, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to raise Taiwan's level of international engagement.
President Tsai also met with a select delegation of representatives from the US attending the inauguration ceremonies for Taiwan's 14th-term president and vice president; the delegation included experts and scholars as well as political and business leaders. She identified the US as Taiwan's most important strategic partner, with a steady and stable bilateral relationship that has long served as a cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Secretary of State John Kerry has publicly stated that Taiwan is a key component of the US "Rebalance to Asia" policy, and Susan Thornton, now US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, has called Taiwan a "vital partner" of the US in East Asia.
President Tsai continued by pointing out that Taiwan and the US had taken an innovative approach to expand their scope of cooperation through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), actively promoting global issues such as the empowerment of women, public health, bridging the digital divide, and energy security. The president said that in the future, she hopes that Taiwan will have opportunities to make positive contributions both regionally and globally in more fields, including humanitarian aid, disaster prevention and rescue, and NGO exchanges.
Turning to Taiwan-US economic and trade relations, President Tsai said that since negotiations resumed under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), they have become a good platform for the continued deepening of bilateral economic and trade relations. The Taiwan-US Digital Economy Forum, established in 2015, has also helped spur bilateral exchanges and cooperation between their respective information and communications technology (ICT) industries. The president then thanked the US for expressing, numerous times, that they welcome Taiwan's desire to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Tsai expressed hope that the US will take more concrete action to help Taiwan participate in the second-round of TPP negotiations.
The president then addressed Taiwan-US cooperation in the area of security, saying that based on the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, as well as common interests in regional security, the US has for many years continued arms sales to Taiwan, jointly ensuring regional peace and stability. She looks forward to the continued deepening of substantive Taiwan-US military cooperation.
In closing, the president stated that Taiwan wants to make the greatest possible contribution to the global community, including in international health, medical assistance, humanitarian aid, flight safety, and anti-terrorism cooperation. She also expressed hope that the US will continue to support the expansion of Taiwan's international participation, and that friendly bilateral relations will continue.