President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is slated to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, today — a visit of political significance, as it would be the first time a president from Taiwan has entered a US federal building in their official capacity after US President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act in March.
The Taiwan Travel Act allows high-level US officials to visit Taiwan and vice versa, breaking from previous US policy that did not permit bilateral visits by Cabinet-level ministers, but allowed Taiwanese presidents to transit through US cities en route to other countries.
Tsai arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday last week en route to Paraguay and Belize, two of Taiwan’s 18 diplomatic allies. On her return trip, she arrived in Houston yesterday for a 27-hour transit.
The president is to return to Taiwan late tomorrow.
Speaking to reporters accompanying her on the trip, Tsai on Friday said that Washington followed its four principles of providing travelers “safety, comfort, convenience and dignity,” as it has done in the past.
“I am grateful to the US for arranging the stopovers,” Tsai said.
When Tsai was in Los Angeles, she visited the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office’s Culture Center, making her the first Taiwanese president to visit one of the country’s representative offices in the US.
She also gave a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, her first public address in the US since she became president.
Earlier on Friday when speaking at the Belizean National Assembly, Tsai promised to strengthen cooperation with the Central American country in various fields, including education, economy, agriculture and infrastructure.
In her address, Tsai said that Taiwan would increase its number of scholarship students from Belize and would invite young Belizeans to join short-term vocational training programs in Taiwan.
The country would also work with Belize’s Institute for Technical, Vocational and Educational Training to improve the quality of vocational education in Belize to better prepare young people for the job market, Tsai said.
In terms of the economy, she said she would continue to encourage delegations from Taiwan’s business sector to visit Belize and develop further trade relationships with the cocoa and coffee industries there.
Bilateral ties between Taiwan and Belize would also be enhanced via Taiwan’s Official Development Assistance program, which would assist Belize in improving its infrastructure, including the construction of new roads and hospitals, Tsai said.
Taiwan’s longstanding friendship with Belize is also manifested by its dedication to helping its ally provide medical care and restore its cultural heritage, Tsai said.
“The friendship between Taiwan and Belize is not built on empty promises or the political whims of our leadership. This is a friendship that, for the past 29 years, has led to results; results that have benefited people from both countries,” Tsai said.
Additional reporting by Su Yung-yao
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
The Council of Agriculture yesterday signed a Taiwan-Australia Agricultural Cooperation Implementation clause to open a new export market for the nation’s pineapple crop. The clause is an addition to existing cooperation measures, it said. China on Friday last week abruptly announced that it would suspend pineapple imports from Taiwan starting on Monday, on grounds that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful organisms” in shipments of the fruit. The public and private sectors have since joined hands to purchase the local fruit to help the nation’s pineapple farmers. Canberra has requested that all pineapples for export to Australia have their crown buds removed,
DECADES OF INFLUENCE: Over the past 20 years, China has made inroads with Aborigines, funding political campaigns and trips, a legislator said Lawmakers have called on the National Security Bureau to investigate claims of pervasive Chinese influence among Aboriginal communities. Legislators pointed to a surge in communist propaganda and Chinese-funded projects over the past few years, which they say are aimed at infiltrating and buying political influence among Aboriginal communities. “China has for decades carried out wide-ranging ‘united front’ tactics and propaganda campaigns targeting Aborigines,” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), a member of the Puyuma community in Taitung County. “Now, they are influencing elections for local councilors and village chiefs, offering money for candidates to mount their campaigns, and to
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last