US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Saturday welcomed President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in Miami, expressing her support for Taiwan and hope for the two nations to become better friends and allies.
Ros-Lehtinen, a former US House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairwoman, said in a statement that she was delighted about her meeting with Tsai, adding that they discussed the importance of the US-Taiwan bilateral relationship.
“Taiwan is a beacon of freedom, a key strategic ally in the Pacific, and the United States must make sure that Taiwan has what it needs to flourish economically and militarily,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Photo: Screengrab from President Tsai Ing-wen’s Facebook account
“As we confront the many common challenges before us, including an increasingly aggressive China, I look forward to continuing to work closely with President Tsai to strengthen the US-Taiwan partnership based on the Taiwan Relations Act and six assurances, and allow our two nations to become even better friends and allies,” she said.
The US representative posted on her Twitter page a photograph of a bronze sculpture titled Wings of Freedom, which she received from Tsai as a gift, and other images of her posing with Tsai. She wrote a comment that they would continue to work together for freedom.
The sculpture was created by Taiwanese artist Lin Wen-teh (林文德). On the bottom of the sculpture was a quote by late Taiwanese democracy activist Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕): “Fighting for 100 percent freedom.”
Cheng was active in the movement against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) authoritarian regime during the Martial Law era and ran a number of dissident magazines. He self-immolated in 1989 when the police arrived outside his office to arrest him and put him on trial for publishing a draft Republic of Taiwan constitution.
Ros-Lehtinen, born in Cuba, was the first Cuban American elected to the US Congress. She is known for her long-term fight for global freedom and democracy, as well as her support for Taiwan.
Tsai also met with US Representative Gregg Harper, a co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and Taiwanese professional baseball pitcher Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷) — who plays for the Miami Marlins — before continuing her journey to Panama on Saturday.
In Panama, Tsai was yesterday to attend the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal expansion project
Speaking about Tsai’s meeting with Chen, Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁) said during Tsai’s flight to Panama that it was a “very warm meeting,” in which six lawmakers accompanying Tsai on her trip were also present.
Tsai asked Chen to autograph several baseballs for her and asked him if he gets nervous when he is called to pitch, Tseng said.
Chen gave Tsai, an animal lover, six pet bowls and a baseball jersey embroidered with his last name and the number 54 as a gift.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the six bowls are for Tsai’s two pet cats and three retired guide dogs that she adopted. The animals are to live with her when she moves into the presidential residence.
Tsai also met with US Senator Marco Rubio, a staunch supporter of Taiwan in the US Congress, who recently introduced a resolution reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” as cornerstones of US-Taiwan relations.
During the meeting, Rubio raised concerns about what Taiwan can do to strengthen its national defenses.
Tsai reiterated Taiwan’s policy goal of developing indigenous submarines, adding that Taiwan needs the US’ assistance in reaching that goal, according to Tseng.
Tsai also expressed hope that the US Congress would help Taiwan’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and help enhance bilateral cooperation in trade and economic exchanges by holding talks on a wide range of issues under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, Tseng said.
Tsai later spoke to US Senator Orrin Hatch by telephone to thank him for his support for Taiwan.
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