President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as they took part in the opening of a two-day Pacific Women Leaders’ Coalition Conference in Majuro, with each nation contributing US$1 million to establish a Microloan Revolving Fund for Women Founding Businesses.
Tsai arrived in the Marshall Islands earlier in the day from Nauru on the third and final leg of her visit to three Pacific allies, and was greeted by Heine at Marshall Islands International Airport.
The revolving fund would provide necessary money and equipment for women in the Marshall Islands, Tsai said.
“A country’s stability and prosperity are directly tied to the number of women who are financially independent,” Tsai said.
A joint committee made up of representatives from the two governments would be established once Taiwan’s funding has been deposited, and would discuss application procedures and qualifications, a Taiwanese government source said.
In her speech to the conference, Tsai highlighted Taiwan’s efforts and achievements in the promotion of gender equality.
Taiwan has always been supportive of women’s independence, Tsai said, citing as an example Taiwan’s efforts with the US in 2016 to set up the APEC Women and the Economy Sub-Fund.
The process of creating a successful business would bring women great satisfaction and confidence, Tsai said, adding that true gender equality comes from confidence in oneself.
The similarity of having women in core positions of family in Taiwan and Austronesia, as well as women making up the majority of representatives from Pacific nations to Taiwan, shows that the Pacific region is becoming more open and accepting in terms of gender cultures, she said.
Tsai and Heine became the first female presidents of their nations in elections in 2016.
Meanwhile, regarding media commentary that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) visit to China was improving his city’s economy while she was increasing the nation’s expenditures with her travels, Tsai said that just as other nations helped Taiwan’s economy take off, “we too must do our international duty as a democratic nation to take care of other less-developed countries.”
Most Taiwanese would agree with her that taking care of other nations was not a waste of money, she said.
As for Han’s meeting with the Taiwan Affairs Office Director Liu Jieyi (劉結一) and the directors of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong and Macau, Tsai said that such matters were the Mainland Affairs Council’s responsibility.
Han is on a five-day visit to Xiamen, China, and reportedly plans to sign deals with the city on agricultural and fishery products.
Mayors often visit other countries to promote local produce, but the point is whether an individual’s actions abroad have hurt the public’s expectations on national sovereignty and dignity, Tsai said, in an apparent reference to Han refraining from mentioning the Republic of China when meeting with Liu and only saying that he was a believer of Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) Three Principles of the People after Liu left.
Politicians have the responsibility to stand their ground and express their beliefs, especially those elected to office by the people, Tsai said.
Compared with Han’s trip, “on a certain level” Taiwan has been elevated from a local level of cross-strait affairs to a regional one, “an Indo-Pacific Taiwan” level, she said.
Such changes would allow more Taiwanese to understand that Taiwan has a significant role to play in the Indo-Pacific region, she added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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