In his speech to the Palauan parliament yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian (
"Taiwan developed its democracy in the late 1970s. Since then, Taiwan has witnessed the end of martial law, the lifting of media restrictions, direct president elections, a peaceful transition of government and, last year, a historic referendum," Chen said in an address to the Palauan parliament shortly after his arrival in Palau on the first leg of his five-day visit to Taiwan's allies in the South Pacific.
Chen emphasized his points by citing a quote made by US President George W. Bush in his inauguration speech last week.
"Just as President George W. Bush of the United States said in his inauguration speech that `only through expending freedom can we allow more countries enjoy freedom,' I firmly believe that the more liberal and democratic an international community becomes, the more it can contribute to the peace and stability of the global village," Chen said.
He is the first president from Taiwan to visit the nation's diplomatic allies in the South Pacific.
"If the ocean can be described as the cornerstone on which Palau and Taiwan can further develop our cultures, then democracy can be described as the universal values that have shaped the people and political systems of the two countries," the president said, adding that "Taiwan is the most important holy land of democracy in the West Pacific and it is strategically situated" while that "Palau is the most beautiful and brilliant star among the island nations of the South Pacific."
Chen and his entourage received a warm welcome upon their arrival at the Palau International Airport yesterday afternoon.
Over 100 Palauan students and Taiwanese expatriates were seen waving Taiwanese and Palauan flags, and calling Chen by his nick-name "A-bian! A-bian!" at the airport.
Prior to delivering his address to the Palaun parliament, Chen met with President Tommy Remengesau, who gave an axe to Chen as a gift.
Remengesau told Chen that in Palauan culture, an axe is presented as an honor to a person who has made a contribution to the community.
"With the presentation of the axe to President Chen, President Remengesau noted Chen is `a brave man' who is now free to use the axe to farm, to fight or to build," Presidential Office spokesman Chen Wen-tsung (
In response, Chen told Remengesau that he would use the axe "to cultivate the garden of bilateral ties between Palau and Taiwan," Chen Wen-tsung quoted the president as saying.
Later in the afternoon, Chen received members of Taiwan's technical mission, Chinese-language teachers and Taiwanese perfoming alternative service in Palau, before hosting a banquet in honor of Remengesau last night. Marshall Islands President Kessai Note was also among the guests at the event.
While expressing gratitude for Palau's support for Taiwan in its bid to join the UN, the World Health Organization and other international bodies, Chen, in his speech delivered at the banquet, also took the opportunity to make a comparison between Taiwan and Palau in their attitudes toward the holding of a referendum.
Chen will attend Remengesau's inauguration for his second term today, after which Remengesau will captain a yacht and take Chen on a leisure voyage.