Taiwan vice president to attend Honduran presidential inauguration

01/19/2022 12:15 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 19 (CNA) Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) will serve as President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) envoy to attend the inauguration ceremony of Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro later this month, the Presidential Office announced Wednesday.

It will be the first time Lai travels overseas since taking office in May 2020.

According to Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵), Lai will lead a delegation of 26 people that will depart Taipei on Jan. 25 and arrive in Honduras on Jan. 27 to attend Castro's inauguration.

The delegation will depart a day later to head home and arrive back in Taiwan on Jan. 30, he said.

At some point during the trip, the delegation will make a stopover in a third country, he said, without specifying when or disclosing the location, though local media reported a stopover will be made in Los Angeles.

Among the members of the delegation will be Taiwan's top envoy to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), and pandemic prevention experts, Chang said.

Chang gave no indication of why Lai rather than President Tsai herself is attending the ceremony.

Asked to comment if the stopover location is the U.S., Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Yui (俞大㵢), who is responsible for Latin American affairs, refused to give more details.

He said arrangements are being made with the authorities of the planned transit location and will be made public soon.

Lai could potentially face an issue if the stopover is in the U.S. because American authorities require visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with an approved vaccine.

Lai was vaccinated with the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine, which is not yet on the U.S. list of accepted COVID-19 jabs.

Asked about the situation, Yui would only say that said Lai will fully cooperate with local COVID-19 prevention measures.

Also, according to Chang, all members of the delegation will be following COVID-19 prevention protocols throughout the trip, such as conducting PCR tests before and after the visit.

After returning to Taiwan, Lai and the others will be quarantined for 14 days and follow self-health management protocols for another seven days, Chang said.

Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang explains to reporters about the COVID-19 protocols planned for Lai
Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang explains to reporters about the COVID-19 protocols planned for Lai's trip Wednesday. CNA photo Jan. 19, 2022

While in Honduras, Yui said Lai is expected to interact with foreign dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who will lead the U.S. delegation at the event.

Lai will meet with Castro to convey Tsai's congratulations and discuss matters related to bilateral ties, Yui said.

Castro's win in the Nov. 28 presidential election made her the first female president of the Central American country, which first established diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, the official name of Taiwan, more than 80 years ago.

The victory of the 62-year-old wife of ousted former Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya had previously raised concerns over Honduran ties with Taiwan, as Castro had said during her campaign that she would switch recognition to China if she won.

Two senior members of Castro's transition team said last month, however, that the incoming government would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Also last month, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Castro's team has promised that Honduras' diplomatic ties with Taiwan will remain unchanged.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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