As only the second ever non-African head of state to visit Chad, Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was given on Wednesday evening in its capital, N'Djamena, the most elaborate welcome of his six-country tour.
Chad had even, to Chen's surprise, named a 10km road running from the capital to the bridge across the Chari River, "Avenue Chen Shui-bian," as a token of its gratitude for Taiwan's assistance in improving its communications system. On seeing the road sign, Chen proposed that it be changed to "Avenue ROC." Eventually "Taiwan Avenue" was agreed upon.
Chad will also name the bridge for whose construction Taiwan donated US$20 million, "Taiwan Bridge." Chad is the last stop on Chen's first presidential foreign visit, which has included three countries in Central America and three in west Africa.
PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES
Thousands of people crowded the streets from the airport to Chad's presidential mansion to welcome Chen.
Members of the crowd, estimated by the delegation to be even larger than that which turned out to welcome the president in the Gambian capital Banjul, brandished national flags and banners of both countries, chanted words of welcome, and sang and danced to celebrate Chen's arrival.
Accompanying Chad's President Idriss Deby, Chen stood in a stretch limousine, leading a thirty-car motorcade, and waved to the crowds.
Posters of Deby and of Chen, the latter provided by Taiwan's embassy, bedecked walls, trees, and the doors of houses seemingly ubiquitously.
According to officials from Taiwan's embassy, the Chad government ordered the cleaning of all major streets in the capital a week ago and the national television channel repeatedly broadcast popular Taiwanese music and broadcast details of Chen's life.
Taiwan's Ambassador, Chiu Chung-jen (邱仲仁), said that the government had granted half a day's holiday for the occasion.
The first non-African head of state to visit Chad was former French president, Charles De Gaulle, who visited in the 1960s as head of the country's former colonial master. Chad declared independence from France in 1960.
Deby expressed a hearty welcome while meeting with Chen, saying the assistance of the Republic of China over the past three years had improved Chad's development "efficiently."
"Not only in agricultural development and highway construction but also in culture, politics, health and economics we have accomplished much," Deby told Chen. Deby pointed out that Taiwan-Chad relations stretched as far back as the 1960s.
Chad first established ties with Taiwan in 1962 but opened its door to the People's Republic of China in 1972, prompting Taiwan to immediately sever diplomatic relations.
The two countries re-established diplomatic relations in 1997 following the granting by Taiwan of substantial financial aid to Chad in the 1990s.
Ambassador Chiu said that since the World Development Bank approved a project allowing Chad to drill for oil in July this year, the nation would receive US$2 billion per year once requisite construction work had been completed in four years' time.
Chiu, however, said that oil revenues would only be likely to last 25 years.
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