The president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Tsai Ing-Wen is in Belize. There was a grand celebration for her at the airport when she arrived. Courtney Weatherburne has the story.
The Belizean and Taiwanese flags were raised high at the PGIA this afternoon. Below the fluttering flags, was a group of by-standers anxiously awaiting the arrival of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.
The crisp-uniformed BDF marched along to the beat of their drums. And then at around 2:40 the China airlines flight touched down on the tarmac.
Governor General of Belize Sir Colville Young, Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington and Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte walked over to greet her as she alighted the plane with her grand press delegation.
There was also a BDF helicopter fly over, and after that, it was all about niceties and formalities. It was a special state visit – one that Belizeans as well Taiwanese- Belizeans heartily embraced.
Jason Chan - Taiwanese-Belizean "It is a very honoured to see our president visiting Belize, we're very happy to see her here."
Reporter "What was it like? Did you ever thing you would meet her? Tell us a bit more, that experience."
Jason Chan "It's definitely one of a kind experience you know, especially the president being in front of you and then we're able to handshake and it's right in front of us. Normally you'll see the president on the TV but today it's right here."
Andy - Taiwanese-Belizean "It is always good to have your leader come to Belize and support, we just want everyone in Taiwan to know that all though we are in foreign part, we care about our country and we still support our homeland."
After she settled in, she attended the 2018 Taiwanese Scholarship Awards Ceremony at 5:10 at the Radisson. She is probably meeting with the Governor General Sir Colville Young right now, that meeting started at 6:30. There will also be a Special Joint Sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate tomorrow morning at 10:00 and then in the afternoon at 2:30 President Wen will visit the ITVET in Belize City. President Wen leaves on Saturday.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen Arrives in Belize
The Taiwanese community in Belize turned out in numbers to greet President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China (Taiwan) upon her arrival at the Philip Goldson International Airport this afternoon. Belize and the island nation of Taiwan have both enjoyed a comfortable diplomatic relationship, however, Taiwan has lost two allies since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected to office in 2016. The President’s visit to Belize is seen as Taiwan cementing diplomatic ties in the face of China’s doubled down efforts to assert sovereignty over the self-ruled and democratic Taiwan. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo was at the P.G.I.A. this afternoon and has the story.
Hipolito Novelo, Reporting
The mid-afternoon at the Phillip Goldson International Airport was bustling with government officials, making sure everything was prepared for the arrival of Tsai Ing-wen, the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). The President arrived in Belize at around two thirty. She was first greeted by Governor General Sir Colville Young, and later by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte and Belize’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Diane Haylock. Thereafter, the Governor General and the President stood side by side for the playing of Taiwan’s national anthem after which the inspection of the Guard of Honor took place. Belize’s national anthem played next and in the background, the flags of both nations flew almost simultaneously- a representation of the diplomatic relationship shared by the two countries. Also there to meet the president were Taiwanese nationals living in Belize, like David Lin.
David Lin, Member of Taiwanese Community in Belize
“It’s always good to have your leaders to come to Belize and support. We just want everyone in Taiwan to know that although we are in foreign we care about our country and we still support our homeland.”
But his homeland needs a lot of diplomatic support on the international scene. Since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected to office in 2016, Taiwan’s allies decreased from twenty to eighteen. The latest nations to abandon Taiwan and recognize mainland China as the only China are the Caribbean’s Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso in West Africa. But Belize has kept alongside the island nation for many years.
Over the years, millions of dollars have been granted to the Government of Belize by the Taiwanese Government through bilateral negotiations and cooperation. The president’s official visit to Belize is seen by some as a “Journey of Joint Celebration” while others have interpreted it as President Tsai Ing-wen’s diplomatic endeavor to cement ties in the face of Beijing’s robust international effort to steal Taiwan’s remaining allies.
Patrick Andrews, C.E.O., Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“Basically, we have been a very important ally to Taiwan and we want to continue building on that relationship and deepening our relationship.”
That relationship is expected to grow stronger with the president’s visit.
Jason Chang, Member of Taiwanese Community in Belize
“It’s definitely one a kind experience especially the President being in front of you and being able to hand shake and be able to…right in front of us. Normally we see the President on the t.v. but today its right here.”
“What does it mean to you personally and to the Taiwanese community here?”
“I believe that it definitely strengthens our ties together especially countries.”
One of those countries is Paraguay which is where President, Tsai Ing-wen will travel to when she leaves Belize on Saturday. Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.
Today, H.E. Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) arrived in Belize for a three-day visit, from the 16th to 18th of August 2018, on the invitation of the Right Honorable Dean O. Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize. This is President Tsai’s first visit to Belize. The presidential visit is expected to enhance mutual understanding, expand exchanges and make further progress on developing and implementing joint initiatives spanning agriculture, education, information and communication technology, medical care and vocational training.
During the first day of the president’s visit, H.E. Sir Colville Young, Governor-General of Belize, conferred the Order of Belize on President Tsai, in recognition of the valuable contributions that Taiwan has made to Belize’s development over the nearly three decades of friendship.
As a part of the visit, President Tsai will address the National Assembly. This will demonstrate the importance of parliamentary diplomacy between the two countries. President Tsai and her delegation will end their visit on Saturday after a short tour in Belize.
In March of 2016, Belize hosted the outgoing President His Excellency Ma Ying-Jeou. Belize and Taiwan established diplomatic ties in 1989, and have enjoyed strong bilateral relations ever since.