President Tsai Ing-wen yesterday expressed the nation’s sincere gratitude to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for visiting Taiwan amid heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
Gonsalves and a delegation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines officials were welcomed with a 21-gun salute outside the Presidential Office Building and the national anthems of both countries were played.
Tsai and Gonsalves then observed a parade of honor guards and military bands.
Tsai said she would like to extend the warmest welcome to the prime minister who is a “close and dear friend of Taiwan.”
Tsai said Gonsalves told reporters before his six-day-visit, which began on Sunday, that Chinese military drills would not prevent him from visiting his “friends in Taiwan.”
Tsai said she was deeply touched by Gonsalves’ visit, which is his 11th as prime minister and the first since he was re-elected for a fifth consecutive term in November 2020.
Gonsalves arrived amid military drills being conducted by China around Taiwan in response to a visit last week by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwan and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have supported each other since establishing ties in 1981 and achieved much, despite the constantly changing international landscape, Tsai said.
Gonsalves delivered a livestreamed speech in which he said Taiwan and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are both island nations that share common values related to “the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights.”
Commenting on the Chinese drills, he said: “We do not like it, and do not support any powerful neighbor seeking to intimidate us or bully us.”
“Wherever there are differences, we must settle them peacefully in a civilized manner,” he added.
Gonsalves said his visit is meant to express Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ solidarity with Taiwan, and is aimed at reinforcing bilateral relations and securing peace, security and prosperity for all.
He also expressed his country’s gratitude to Taiwan for offering assistance after a volcanic eruption last year and in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two leaders also attended meetings to discuss issues of mutual interest, witnessed the signing of a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement and a letter of intent for collaboration in higher education, the Presidential Office said.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is one of 14 UN members that diplomatically recognize Taiwan instead of the People’s Republic of China.
Separately, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday posted Twitter messages in support of Taiwan.
“The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a true friend and ally” of Taiwan, the mission said, reiterating its promise to maintain the rules-based international order as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
“We condemn the recent military actions in the Taiwan Strait that threaten to disrupt peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and across the Indo-Pacific region,” it said.
It expressed the hope that the dispute can be resolved through constructive dialogue, adding that any communication should be transparent to prevent misunderstanding.