Yesterday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen and a large delegation landed in Belize at the Philip Goldson International Airport. After a brief ceremony and inspection of the BDF soldiers, Governor General Sir Colville Young bestowed President Tsai with the Order of Belize after a tour of the Museum of Belize. It wasn’t mentioned on the official itinerary but President Tsai also dined with the Prime Minister and his wife. Today, day two of the visit took place in both Belmopan and Belize, in the morning President Tsai addressed parliament.
Jose Sanchez: In the Capital, the gallery was filled with dignitaries and media from Taiwan. And in a show of formality, the Speaker of the House Laura Longsworth asked the members of parliament if they would allow senators to join them for a highly unusual joint session.
Speaker Of The House, Laura Longsworth: If this is in accordance with your will; the clerk of the house will be directed to convey to the honorable Mr. President and the honourable senators a cordial invitation in your name that they should attend the meeting. Is this your will?
Jose Sanchez: And after that “aye”, the senators filed in and President of the Senate, Lee Mark Chang joined the Speaker of the House facing the ministers, senators and Opposition. There was also an unusual pat on the back exchanged between Leaders of both parties as they awaited the arrival of President Tsai. It was clearly a day of friendship.
Jose Sanchez: And after President Tsai’s brief tour of the building, Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the joint sitting of the House.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow: On behalf of all the members of the National Assembly Madam President and indeed on behalf of the entire nation of Belize it gives me the greatest pleasure to welcome you to our capital city of Belmopan, to our famed Independence Hill and of course to this National Assembly. This is a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and of the Senate convened especially in your honor. Hope I am not mis-recollecting but I don’t think this has happened more than one time in the past. Certainly not more than two. The point is Madam President; it is a particular honor that we are very pleased indeed to be able to bestow on you.
Tsai Ing-Wen, President of Taiwan: It is great to be in the City of Belmopan. I was moved by the warm reception the people of Belize extended about our arrival. It was touching to visit Taiwan St. where our embassy stands and be reminded of the friendship that has brought our two peoples closer together. I was especially pleased to have a chance to meet with young Belizeans and to offer 29 scholarships. The most ever for their studies in Taiwan. These young people are not only the future of Belize but also the brightest and they will serve as bridges that will sustain our friendship for many years to come.
Jose Sanchez: Taiwan will continue to invest in every facet of Belizean life, especially education.
Tsai Ing-Wen, President of Taiwan: Our early experiences shows us the importance of education as in aging for growth and social development. This is why I am pleased to announce here that further to increasing the number of Taiwan scholarship students from Belize which we have started to implement. We will also be inviting young Belizeans for short term vocational training programs in Taiwan. Taiwan is also prepared to make more investment in Belize agriculture, Industry and Infrastructure. The construction of new roads, hospitals and other important projects are especially ideal candidates for our official development assistant program from our farmers to overseas construction companies. Taiwan has accumulated a lot of experience that we will be willing to share and we of course look forward to doing so with one of Taiwan’s closests friends and ally’s. That is Belize.
Jose Sanchez: That theme of friendship would be repeated throughout her speech.