President Chen Shui-bian (
Tong arrived in Taipei on Monday night for a five-day visit. Accompanied by his wife and a group of high-ranking officials, Tong thanked Chen for his warm reception and said the ceremony signified "a historical moment" in the Taiwan-Kiribati relationship.
"President Tong and I have many things in common," Chen said, citing their Asian heritage, appointments of female vice presidents, similar ages and similar political experiences.
Kiribati is the first country to be added to the ranks of the nation's allies during Chen's presidency.
"President Tong is the first head of state to visit Taiwan this year. He brings to Taiwan bright sunshine upon his arrival, a good signal for the new year," Chen said, referring to yesterday's reappearance of the sun after weeks of cold and rain.
"Personally and frankly, I am not used to this kind of elaborate ceremony, but it signified the special relations between Taiwan and Kiribati," Tong said at an afternoon tea party with a group of reporters who had accompanied Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien's (簡又新) delegation to Kiribati in January.
Tong, who braved considerable pressure when he decided to switch his country's alliance from Beijing to Taipei, said that the economy was at the top of Kiribati's development agenda.
"Kiribati has very little to offer any country. What we can offer is our sincerity, our goodwill, and whatever else we might be able to provide -- certainly not much in material terms, because we are not a rich country," Tong said.
Kiribati's economic development is still very "basic," he said. "We sometimes question our ability to survive economically."
However, Tong said he earnestly wished that the Taiwan-Kiribati relationship would not just be a "one-way flow."
"I would like to think that we will have something to reciprocate with in some way," he said.
Kiribati has licensed many Tai-wanese fishing vessels operating in its waters. Citing fishery as one of Kiribati's most abundant resour-ces, Tong said he hoped to be able to draw investment to develop the fish processing industry in his country.
He said numerous employment opportunities would be created if the fish harvested in Kiribati's waters were also to be processed in his country.
Tong, who visited Taiwan as Kiribati's permanent secretary for natural resources in 1982, said he perceived substantial changes in Taipei since his previous visit.
He said the buildings had changed and that people now looked more active.
Tong said he has been keeping a close watch on developments surrounding Chen's proposed referendum, and described his Taiwanese counterpart as "a very impressive man indeed."
Chen is someone who is "not very difficult to approach. I have no doubt that he will do well in the forthcoming election," Tong said.
First lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), who had been scheduled to attend the welcoming ceremony, canceled at the last minute because of blood pressure problems.
She "suddenly felt very uncomfortable when preparing to leave home," Chen explained during the ceremony. "She had no choice but to cancel."
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan
The US on Thursday removed a warning against all international travel, and placed Taiwan on a list of 13 destinations where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is “very low.” The list was compiled almost five months after the US Department of State issued a “global level 4 health advisory,” urging US citizens to avoid all international travel. On Thursday, the department announced that it was lifting the advisory, saying that “with health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice.” The US