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Lai hosts shrimp fishing outing with leaders attending inauguration

05/19/2024 03:32 PM
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President-elect Lai Ching-te (left) and Tuvaluan Prime Minister Feleti Penitala Teo (in blue). CNA photo May 19, 2024
President-elect Lai Ching-te (left) and Tuvaluan Prime Minister Feleti Penitala Teo (in blue). CNA photo May 19, 2024

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) hosted a shrimp fishing event Sunday morning to welcome visiting leaders from the Republic of China's (ROC) diplomatic allies who are in Taiwan to attend his inauguration on Monday.

Speaking ahead of the hour-long event, Lai, who is set to take the oath as the ROC's fifth popularly elected president (since 1996), welcomed the group of dignitaries from countries that formally recognize the ROC, Taiwan's formal name.

"We will work with all sides to build a nation of prosperity and maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait," Lai said at the beginning of the event held at an indoor shrimp fishing pond on the outskirts of Taipei.

"And Taiwan is not alone. We have been working with international friends like you who also uphold the values of democracy, freedom and human rights," he said in a rare English address.

Lai said Sunday's shrimp fishing was a way for his guests to relax by engaging in a traditional Taiwanese pastime.

Eswatini King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini (left) and President-elect Lai Ching-te. CNA photo May 19, 2024
Eswatini King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini (left) and President-elect Lai Ching-te. CNA photo May 19, 2024

Lai and Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) were joined by Eswatini King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini, Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, Palauan President Surangel Whipps, Jr., and Paraguayan President Santiago Peña Palacios, at the shrimp pond.

The guest list also included John Briceño, prime minister of Belize; Philip J. Pierre, prime minister of St. Lucia; Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Feleti Teo, prime minister of Tuvalu; Geoffrey Hanley, deputy prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis; and Guatemalan Foreign Minsiter Carlos Ramiro Martínez.

King Mswati III and Heine ultimately finished first and second in the shrimping race with the most and second most catches of shrimps among the guests.

President-elect Lai Ching-te stands behind Palauan President Surangel Whipps, Jr. (sitting left). CNA photo May 19, 2024
President-elect Lai Ching-te stands behind Palauan President Surangel Whipps, Jr. (sitting left). CNA photo May 19, 2024

A source told CNA that the shrimping event was the second Lai has hosted since taking office as vice president in May 2020. He held a similar outing in 2021 with the American, Japanese, Australian, British and Indian representatives to Taiwan.

This "culturally creative" approach is meant to enhance relationships with the nation's diplomatic allies and friendly nations in a fun way, the unnamed source said.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Joseph Yeh)

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President-elect Lai Ching-te (sitting, left) and Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim (sitting right). CNA photo May 19, 2024
President-elect Lai Ching-te (sitting, left) and Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim (sitting right). CNA photo May 19, 2024
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