President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who yesterday embarked on a trip to Paraguay and four other allied nations in the Caribbean, touted the success of his policy of “flexible diplomacy” in consolidating the nation’s foreign relations and ending the fierce battle with China for diplomatic allegiances.
“We have enjoyed stable relations with our 23 allies and our friendships with the US, Japan and other non-allied countries in Asia and Europe are moving ahead,” Ma said at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport prior to his departure.
“We hope the trip will help us have a better understanding of our cooperative projects with allied nations,” he added.
The 12-day trip is Ma’s eighth diplomatic visit since he took the office in 2008.
The president will lead a delegation to the inauguration of Paraguayan President-elect Horacio Cartes and Vice President Juan Afara on Thursday, and then visit the four Caribbean allied countries: Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Before touching down in Paraguay, Ma and the delegation will first land in New York in the US today to make a transit stop and attend a breakfast meeting with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; US Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, and ranking committee member Eliot Engel.
The New York stop has raised much attention as it is the first time Ma has visited the city as president, although he has made transit stops in other US cities on the west coast and Hawaii during previous foreign trips.
In New York, he is to visit the local branch of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, becoming the first Taiwanese president to visit the association that represents Chinese-Americans living in the Greater New York metropolitan area.
He is also scheduled to meet high-level business executives to discuss the world economy and visit the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, before going to see his alma mater, New York University.
The presidential delegation is then set to travel to Haiti to observe the recovery process in the country since it was devastated by a massive earthquake in 2010. The visit will be Ma’s first to Taiwan’s Caribbean ally since he became president in 2008.
The president will return to Taiwan on Aug. 22.