President Tsai thanks visiting SVG PM over visit amid China exercises

08/08/2022 03:02 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (left) and SVG Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves (center, in suit). CNA photo Aug. 8, 2022
President Tsai Ing-wen (left) and SVG Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves (center, in suit). CNA photo Aug. 8, 2022

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday expressed the nation's sincere gratitude to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves over his ongoing visit to Taiwan amid heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

During her address following a military salute ceremony in front of the Presidential Office to welcome Gonsalves, Tsai said she would like to extend the warmest welcome to the SVG prime minister who is a "close and dear friend of Taiwan."

According to Tsai, Gonsalves told reporters before his six-day-visit to the country that "Chinese military drills will not prevent him from visiting his friends in Taiwan."

President Tsai said she was deeply touched by Gonsalves visit, which marks the 11th time he has visited Taiwan as prime minister and the first since being re-elected to a fifth consecutive term in November 2020.

Gonsalves' arrival on Sunday coincided with what is expected to be the final day of intensive military drills being conducted by China in waters around Taiwan in response to a visit earlier last week by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

According to Tsai, since both countries established ties in 1981, each side has supported the other and together achieved much, despite the constantly changing international landscape.

During the ceremony to welcome him to Taiwan on Monday Gonsalves and a delegation of officials received a 21-gun salute and the national anthems of the two countries were played.

Tsai and Gonsalves then observed a parade of honor guards and military bands.

CNA photo Aug. 8, 2022
CNA photo Aug. 8, 2022

Meanwhile, following the military salute Gonsalves delivered a speech by live stream in which he said both Taiwan and SVG are island nations that share common values related to "the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights."

Commenting on the Chinese drills, the SVG leader said "we do not like it and do not support any powerful neighbor seeking to intimidate us or bully us."

"Wherever there are differences, we must settle them peacefully in a civilized manner," he added.

Gonsalves said the visit is meant to express SVG's solidarity with Taiwan and to work further to strengthen bilateral relations and secure peace, security and prosperity for all.

He also expressed his country's gratitude to Taiwan for offering assistance after a recent volcanic eruption and in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the two leaders also attended meetings to discuss issues of mutual interest, witnessed the signing of a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement and a letter of intent for collaboration in higher education to further deepen bilateral judicial and educational cooperation, according to the Presidential Office.

CNA photo Aug. 8, 2022
CNA photo Aug. 8, 2022

SVG is one of 14 nations that currently diplomatically recognize Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China, instead of the People's Republic of China.

A day after Pelosi's visit, the PLA launched live-fire military drills in six maritime areas near Taiwan, which were scheduled to last from Thursday to Sunday.

China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified one day, also suspended imports of some Taiwanese foods and agricultural produce in retaliation for Pelosi's visit, the first by a sitting U.S. House speaker since 1997.

Beijing strongly objects to other countries treating Taiwan as a nation, including sending high ranking officials to visit, and has accused the United States of violating its commitments to the "one China" policy and fueling Taiwan independence efforts.

(By Joseph Yeh)

Enditem/AW

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Update

Aug. 10: SVG will not cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan: Prime minister

Aug. 8: President Tsai thanks visiting SVG PM over visit amid China exercises

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