President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) expressed gratitude to South Pacific ally Tuvalu yesterday for standing firm in support of Taiwan in the face of China's intimidation and economic promises.
Chen made the remarks while receiving Prime Minister Maatia Toafa and his wife at the Presidential Office yesterday.
Stating that China's enactment of the "Anti-Secession" Law was an insult to international justice and had aroused unnecessary tension across the Taiwan Strait, Chen took the opportunity yesterday to express thanks to Toafa for his country's issuing a statement condemning Beijing for the law.
Chen also thanked Toafa for having voiced support for Taiwan's bid to join the UN at last September's UN General Assembly and for the consistent support shown by Tuvaluan health officials for Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO) at the annual World Health Assembly.
Recalling his visit to Tuvalu earlier this month, Chen said he was glad to know that Taiwan had been able to provide timely assistance to the Pacific island nation in terms of infrastructure and providing scholarships.
Chen, who was the first president from Taiwan to visit Tuvalu, said that he looked forward to closer fishery cooperation between the two countries.
"Despite its limited land space, Tuvalu has immense exclusive economic waters, rich in marine resources," he said. "Taiwan, with its advanced deep-sea fishing technology, should strengthen fishery cooperation with Tuvalu."
He said the number of scholarships for Tuvaluans was raised from two last year to three this year and "that it is expected by next year [the quota] could be raised to five."
In response, Toafa spoke of Taiwan as "Tuvalu's good friend," and thanked it for its help in various cooperative projects in the fields of medicine and education. He said Tuvalu will continue to support Taiwan's bid to take part in regional and international organizations.
In other developments, Chen received another delegation later yesterday led by a bishop of the United Methodist Church, Reverend Roy Sano.
He told the Methodist delegation that Taiwan -- as opposed to China -- is a lover of world peace and a defender of the international order.
"China, which has long wanted to resolve the cross-strait dispute by non-peaceful means, is after all the true troublemaker and provocateur to the world peace," he said.
"Taiwan's people will stand on the side of universal values," Chen said.