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President Tsai delivers address before Paraguayan Congress

President Tsai delivers address before Paraguayan Congress
After finishing her visit to the Presidential Palace of Paraguay at 11:30 a.m. local time on June 28 (11:30 p.m. June 28 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen proceeded to the National Congress of Paraguay to deliver an address before a joint session of the Paraguayan Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

After the national anthems of the two countries were played, President of the Paraguayan Congress and Senate Mario Abdo Benitez first delivered remarks in which he welcomed President Tsai and her delegation. Then President Tsai delivered her address.

The following is a translation of President Tsai's remarks:

Taiwan and Paraguay are located on opposite sides of the earth, but the great distance between us has never affected diplomatic relations between our two countries.

As president, I wish to first represent the government of the Republic of China and the 23 million people of Taiwan in saluting the National Congress of Paraguay and each of its members. I thank Paraguay's highest elected body for inviting us here and affording us the opportunity to gather with our friends.

Before departing from Taiwan, I spoke at the airport and told the people of Taiwan that I was setting off on a trip of "steadfast diplomacy based on building mutually beneficial relationships." To be steadfast is to be unwavering and firm in purpose, to act with sincerity, and to see and experience things first-hand. To seek mutual benefits is to be willing to share, learn, and cooperate, and to work together toward common goals.

I've come here personally so that the people of Taiwan can become better acquainted with this far-away friend. Your country has a brilliant history, and your warm and enthusiastic people are working to achieve prosperity.

This morning I had the honor of receiving the Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez Honor Medal from President Horacio Cartes. I was moved to learn of the history and significance of the medal.

At its most difficult hour, a country needs a strong leader who will make whatever sacrifice is necessary to protect the country's interests. In times of peace, I believe that the spirit of Marshal Lopez will manifest itself in the implementation of difficult reforms.

It is a tremendous honor to receive the Marshal Lopez medal, and its conferral shows the depth of our friendship. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I would like to thank Paraguay once again for this special recognition.

For you in the audience, I am the head of state of a distant diplomatic ally who has come to visit your country. But I want to tell you that Taiwan and Paraguay have more than just an ordinary diplomatic relationship, and our cooperation goes far beyond just investing in each other's economy.

Our friendship is based on the common values we share--freedom, democracy and human rights, these are the values you strive to pursue here in Paraguay, and they are the same universal values that underpin the democratic accomplishments of the Taiwanese. This is the foundation of our friendship.

After winning its independence, Paraguay went through two wars and a period of authoritarian rule before finally laying the foundation for democracy in the 1990s.

For Taiwan, the democratic path has also been a difficult one. Just like Paraguay, we were once under colonial rule and lived through a period of authoritarian rule. But the people of Taiwan never let up in their quest for democracy and freedom, and even since achieving democracy, we have not let up on the struggle to deepen democracy and implement human rights.

This past January 16, the people of Taiwan voted for the third handover of ruling power between different political parties. On the evening of my election, I told everyone that to be Taiwanese is to be free and democratic, because we know that freedom and democracy have been achieved only with great effort, and should always be treasured.

Democracy never just arrives like a gift from above. It must be constantly pursued by a courageous people. The people of Paraguay and Taiwan have the same courage, we share the same values, we have had similar historical experiences, and despite our different languages, we speak of the same democracy and the same freedom. That is why we must help and trust each other, and that is why we must treasure our stout friendship.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and Paraguay. I want to convey my best wishes here to the people of our two countries on the two tips of this earth. Let us always pursue our ideals with courage.

We seek the same goals and cherish the same values, and this is reflected in the many cooperation projects that Taiwan and Paraguay are carrying out.

Both of our governments are striving to implement residential justice. In Paraguay, we are working together to build affordable housing and safeguard the people's right to housing.

In Taiwan, too, we are currently planning to build social housing in the hope of further promoting affordable, high-quality housing, so that young people working in cities and those who need housing will all have a place to live.

But justice is needed not only in housing. Taiwan has also been working hard in recent years on a high-priority project to narrow the digital divide. Taiwan first proposed establishment of the APEC Digital Opportunity Center at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in 2003, and since that time Taiwan has expended considerable resources in the effort to find a real solution to this problem.

Some of the world's leading electronics makers of Taiwan, such as ASUS and Acer, have joined in this initiative by providing hardware support and cloud-based learning software, hoping that by providing more learning support for more young people in Paraguay, the digital divide can be reduced.

At the same time, in the course of our cooperation with Paraguay, we have also learned a lot ourselves, and this will provide useful reference in the future as we undertake additional technical cooperation and development.

Taiwan and the National University of Asuncion are currently engaged in the Feed Production Project. The aim is to use international cooperation, industry-academia cooperation, and the planning of localized production to help the already competitive Paraguayan beef to command even higher prices and compete even more successfully against products from other major beef producing countries.

Today I have some good news to announce. In order to enhance the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay, we are going to gradually raise our import quotas for Paraguayan beef, provided that all imported beef meets health and quarantine regulations. This policy will ensure that consumers in Taiwan have a greater variety of beef to choose from.

In addition to the feed production program, Taiwan and Paraguay will also continue carrying out the Pacu Fingerling Breeding and Cultivation Project, the Orchid Industry Development and Tissue Culture Plantlet Propagation Project, and the Health Information Management Efficiency Enhancement Project in Paraguay.

In the field of education, I hope to see more interaction between the people of our two countries. We should not only send more professionals and Chinese teachers to Paraguay, we should also support more students from Paraguay to come and study in Taiwan.

I also want to announce here that we are going to increase the number of recipients under our Taiwan Scholarship Program each year from 14 to 28. I hope that more Paraguayan students can come to Taiwan to learn, grow, and explore the world alongside our students. And I hope that they can become people-to-people ambassadors who help to deepen friendship between our two countries.

Of course, included in our delegation here today are a lot of friends from Taiwan's industrial community. Taiwan and Paraguay have completely different climates, and our industries are complementary. Paraguay is located in the heart of South America, and is an important member of Mercosur. I would also like to see more interaction and investment activity between our industrial communities, so that Paraguay can become an important base for Taiwanese industry to expand markets in the Americas.

And finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank the many Taiwanese people working in Paraguay, including our diplomats, the outstanding technical personnel involved in international cooperation projects here, and other colleagues.

These colleagues out on the front lines of our diplomatic effort are important assets for Taiwan. They've left their homes far behind and come here to work side-by-side with the people of Paraguay to achieve their ideals. So, if I might, I'd like to ask our Paraguayan friends to cherish their hard work and sacrifices.

The friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay springs from shared democratic values, and is bolstered by concrete cooperation projects. These projects afford us opportunities to help each other and work hand-in-hand to reinforce each other's strengths, help our citizens, and deepen our friendship.

In a new age for Taiwan's diplomacy, this is the most important spirit: to be unwavering and firm in purpose, and to work diligently and sincerely so that friendship between countries is more than just official diplomatic ties, but in fact finds expression in the feelings and the daily lives of our respective peoples.

Steadfast diplomacy based on building mutually beneficial relationships—this will be the foundation for a stable friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay, and the basic principle guiding Taiwan's engagement with the world.

In the future, our outstanding diplomats will bring their successful experience in Paraguay back with them to Taiwan. This will bring Taiwan even closer to the world, and also bring the world's valuable experiences to Taiwan.

Taiwan is a beautiful island surrounded by warm seas. And the great Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos once described Paraguay as an island surrounded by land.

Our two countries are so far from each other, and yet we are so much alike. Our deep friendship, our common values, and our joint commitment to cooperation and mutual benefit perfectly embody the essence of the Taiwan-Paraguay diplomatic relationship.

Once again, allow me to thank Mr. Abdo Benitez, Mr. Hugo Adalberto Velazquez Moreno (President of the Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies), and all the assembled senators and deputies. May our countries enjoy a lasting friendship and continued prosperity. Thank you!

Former Paraguayan First Lady and current Senator Emilia Alfaro de Franco also presented a commemorative gift to President Tsai, who received a standing ovation from Paraguayan Congress and Senate President Abdo Benitez, and Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies President Velazquez Moreno, and the parliamentarians on hand.