President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who are now in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," arrived on January 8 (Sunday) at 4:15 p.m. local time (January 9, 6:15 a.m. Taipei time) at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras.
After President Tsai's chartered aircraft came to a halt on the tarmac, ROC Ambassador to Honduras Alejandro R.K. Huang (黃榮國) and Honduran Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Dolores Aguero Lara boarded the plane to welcome her, while Honduran Vice President Ricardo Alvarez welcomed her at the foot of the airstair, and then accompanied her in accepting a red-carpet military honor guard salute.
In remarks, President Tsai stated that she was honored to visit Honduras at the invitation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado. She remarked that this was her second overseas trip since she took office in May of last year, and her first time to visit beautiful Honduras, which boasts a wealth of Mayan culture. On behalf of Taiwan, she extended warm greetings to the government and people of Honduras.
President Tsai pointed out that Taiwan and Honduras have long maintained close and friendly cooperative relations. Noting that last year marked the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Honduras and the Republic of China, the president said she was very happy to make Honduras the first stop on her trip to Central America, and expressed hope that the two countries can enjoy more in-depth exchanges.
President Tsai stated that during this visit she and President Hernandez will discuss how to improve bilateral relations, exchange views on issues of concern to both countries, and see some of the successes that have been achieved in important bilateral cooperation projects. The president further expressed confidence that friendly diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Honduras will continue to be enhanced on the strong existing basis, and that bilateral cooperative relations will grow closer and more substantial.
President Tsai also indicated that it happened to be raining when Vice President Alvarez met her at the airport, which is quite rare in Honduras, and Vice President Alvarez shared a saying to the effect that "get rained on and you'll get rich," which aptly symbolizes how ties between the two countries are sure to grow even stronger as time goes by. At the same time, President Tsai also got a strong feel for the deep friendship and enthusiasm of Honduras and all of Central America. She concluded her remarks by saying: "Thank you, everyone. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of our itinerary here."
Upon arriving at the Hotel Real Intercontinental, where the delegation was staying, President Tsai was welcomed by expatriate community representatives and Taiwanese people running businesses in Central America. After receiving flowers from expat community beauty queen Melanie Vergas, the president extended her best regards to everyone who had come to see her upon her arrival.
After a brief rest, President Tsai attended a reception with an association of Hondurans who have studied in Taiwan. In remarks, the president said she was very happy to see everyone and noted that more than 300 young Hondurans have studied in Taiwan on the Taiwan Scholarship Program. Among these young people, some enrolled at schools in northern Taiwan, and some pursued studies at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, which is located in her hometown, but no matter where the location, the president expressed confidence that they are no doubt pretty well acquainted with Taiwan and how people live there.
President Tsai pointed out that studying abroad is a good way to get deeply familiar with a country, and is a wonderful thing to experience. Stating she has studied overseas herself, the president said that striking off alone and leaving home far behind to pursue advanced studies and make one's way in a totally different environment presents an important opportunity for growth in a young person's life.
President Tsai mentioned that President Hernandez has long wanted to go to Taiwan to see the sights and get a taste of Taiwanese life, but before the opportunity ever came up he first asked his daughter, Ivonne Hernandez, to go and take a look around for him. A few months earlier, however, President Hernandez finally did visit Taiwan, and what left the deepest impression on President Tsai was when President Hernandez went to Da-an Forest Park to jog, and when he rode on the Mass Rapid Transit system. It is very good experience as a president to get to know a city in another country, said President Tsai, who added that she hopes to take advantage of the current trip to learn how ordinary people live in Honduras.
President Tsai said that those present at the reception, having finished their studies in Taiwan and returned to take up important jobs in Honduras, are now putting their expertise to work throughout society, whether they be working in government or the private sector, and regardless if they are teachers, military personnel, or something else. Whatever the case may be, they are all making important contributions to their country, and it is an honor for Taiwan to be associated with such people. The president also said she strongly hoped they would all help to promote friendship and exchanges between Taiwan and Honduras, and that they would take advantage of their position as locals to provide assistance to Taiwanese people seeking opportunities to invest in Honduras or otherwise interact with the people there.
President Tsai stated that Taiwan's government attaches great importance to the Taiwan Scholarship Program because it plays an important role in spurring exchanges and solidifying friendships between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies, and it provides an important bridge by which Taiwan can extend its global presence. For these reasons, the president thanked everyone at the reception for all they have done and will do in the future to familiarize people in other countries with Taiwan. After the conclusion of her remarks, President Tsai then listened as Honduran friends—including the president's daughter Ivonne Hernandez, Minister of Economic Development Arnaldo Castillo Figueroa, and Jose Fernando Berrios Godoy, communications adviser of the Honduran Presidential House —spoke about their experiences in Taiwan.