The Legislative Yuan has established friendship associations with lawmakers in Latin America and Africa as part of the nation’s efforts to bolster ties with diplomatic allies and nations friendly to Taiwan.
The two associations have been set up to promote deeper exchanges between Taiwanese lawmakers and their counterparts Latin America and Africa, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉), who spearheaded the initiative, said at the inaugural meeting in Taipei yesterday.
A cross-party effort, the Taiwan-Central and South American and Caribbean Countries Parliamentary Friendship Association has 30 Taiwanese legislative members, while the Taiwan-African Countries Parliamentary Friendship Association has 46, Chiu said, adding that the goal is to have more than half of the Legislative Yuan join both groups.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
Despite the distance that separates Taiwan from allies and friends in Latin America and Africa, the bond between Taiwan and those nations is strong, as they share the same values, such as democracy, freedom and hospitality, he said.
The inauguration is only the beginning, as plenty of work still needs to be done, he added.
A time frame for responsibilities would be drawn up to enhance bilateral relations between Taiwan and each of these nations in a practical manner, he said.
“We value every nation,” Chiu said.
Lauding the founding of the associations, Nicaraguan Ambassador William Manuel Tapia Aleman, who is the dean of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan, said he believed the associations would benefit Taiwan’s foreign relations.
Taiwan has made major contributions in the international arena amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Tapia said, citing Taiwan’s provision of disease prevention aid to Nicaragua, the first nation in the world to do so.
Taiwan has done a “wonderful job” in providing disease prevention assistance, he said, adding that ambassadors and representatives from other nations probably share the sentiment.
The establishment of the associations is a starting point for a new round of international networking, he said, adding that he hoped Taiwanese missions can visit more regions and nations after the pandemic is over.
Except for Honduras, all the ambassadors of Taiwan’s allies in Central and South America attended the inauguration: Tapia, Saint Kitts and Nevis Ambassador Jasmine Elise Huggins, Paraguayan Ambassador Marcial Bobadilla Guillen, Haitian Ambassador Rachel Coupaud, Belizean Ambassador Diane C. Haylock, Saint Lucia Ambassador Edwin Laurent, Guatemalan Ambassador Willy Alberto Gomez Tirado, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Andrea Clare Bowman.
Attendees from Africa were Lindiwe Kunene, an official from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Eswatini, as well as South African Representative to Taiwan Robert Seraki Matsebe.
DPP legislators Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) and Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) were also present, while Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Tsao (曹立傑) delivered an address.
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