On the morning of May 22, President Tsai Ing-wen met first with Burkina Faso Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba and later with a congratulatory delegation from the United States House of Representatives. In addition to thanking her visitors for coming to Taiwan to attend the inauguration of our 14th-term president and vice president, the president also expressed hope for further enhancement of Taiwan's cooperation and exchanges with the US and Burkina Faso in all areas.
During her meeting with Prime Minister Thieba, President Tsai noted that diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Burkina Faso date back 22 years, and our two countries' cooperative relationship is very robust and friendly. The years, moreover, have brought institutionalization of communications channels associated with vibrant cooperative projects that cover a wide range of different fields. In recent years the two countries have achieved considerable success with projects in such fields as vocational training, agriculture, renewable energy, and public health and medicine. In light of the fact that the 11th meeting of the Taiwan-Burkina Faso Mixed Commission of Cooperation is scheduled to take place in the latter half of 2016 in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou, the president also expressed hope that Prime Minister Thieba can cooperate closely with Taiwan to plan out priority cooperation projects moving forward.
President Tsai extended her gratitude for Burkina Faso's longstanding support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in the international community. In 2015, for example, Burkina Faso spoke out on Taiwan's behalf at the World Health Assembly, the African-Asian Rural Development Organization, and the United Nations General Assembly. The president expressed hope that such support will continue in the future.
President Tsai also mentioned that Prime Minister Thieba served for many years at such regional bodies as the Central Bank of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union, and is deeply experienced in financial, economic, and international affairs. The president noted that this was the prime minister's first visit to Taiwan, in addition to attending the inauguration, he will also visit Nangang Software Park, Nangang Software Incubator, and various solar energy and construction firms. The president expressed confidence that the prime minister will gain a better understanding of the state of Taiwan's economic development, and that this trip will help enhance our two countries' cooperative relationship.
During her subsequent meeting with US Congressman Matt Salmon (Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific) and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, President Tsai noted that her two visitors had elected to make the long trip to Taiwan even though the US Congress is currently in session. Their visit, though short, bears witness to how much Taiwan has achieved through democratic elections.
President Tsai pointed out that the two members of congress have strongly supported Taiwan across the board. In particular, Chairman Salmon spearheaded the passage last year of a House Resolution in support of observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). This House Resolution and its counterpart Senate Bill were both passed with unanimous bipartisan support, and the measure was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 18 of this year, thus giving it the binding force of law. This clearly shows strong bipartisan support in the US Congress for Taiwan's international participation.
President Tsai noted that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry have both spoken positively in public on the development of Taiwan-US relations, describing Taiwan as "an important security and economic partner of the US." In addition, at a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific this past February, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton stated: "The innovative spirit, democratic dynamism, and courageous vision of the people on Taiwan make us proud to be their friend and partner."
President Tsai also thanked the US for abiding by its security commitments to Taiwan as set out in the Taiwan Relations Act, and specially noted that this past April the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed House Concurrent Resolution 88, which "expresses the sense of Congress that the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances together form the cornerstone of U.S. relations with Taiwan." This was of deep significance to Taiwan, she said, because it was the first time that the US Congress had included the Six Assurances in such a resolution.
Commenting on Taiwan-US economic and trade relations, President Tsai pointed out that ties are very close. Taiwan was the ninth-largest trading partner of the US last year, while the US once again vaulted past Japan to become Taiwan's second-largest trading partner. In the future, she said, the Taiwan government will actively seek to take part in second-round negotiations on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to achieve its goal of joining the TPP.