Once again, it is an absolute honour for me to visit the Republic of China (Taiwan) whose enchanting people, enthralling culture and expert technical knowledge have made a lasting and profound impact on my country, its government and citizenry.
I am therefore humbled and privileged that today the government of Taiwan has accorded me one of its highest orders and decorations conferred on foreign Heads of Government. I am happy to accept The Order of Propitious Cloudswith Special Grand Cordon, which was just conferred on me by President Tsai.
I am mindful that today’s investiture of this highest honour is symbolic of the sincere appreciation and regard of the government and people of Taiwan for my leadership in promoting greater international support for Taiwan at the United Nations, WTO and other international fora.
I consider The Order of Propitious Clouds a tribute to the immense success that my Team Unity Administration has had in working with the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to cultivate an even more favourable relationship than had existed before my tenure as Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis. Our bilateral relations with Taiwan and its people have been strong and resilient for over 35 years. I can confidently say that my country is the strongest ally of Taiwan in the Caribbean. Our relationship has been mutually rewarding.
In the area of health, with the assistance of your government, we have been able to address the critical issue of the care and treatment of non-communicable diseases, which affect so many in our Caribbean Community.
In the area of national security, the government of Taiwan has been equally supportive. That support in training and technology has helped us to realize a dramatic reduction in recorded crime for the first 14 weeks of 2019.
Indeed, your country has touched pretty much every facet of life in St. Kitts and Nevis within the past four years – including our culture and heritage…having contributed towards the construction of our National Heroes Park…agriculture…having installed four weather stations to collect agriculture-related weather information which is critical as we address the challenges of climate change…and of course education…as Taiwan continues to offer study opportunities through your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) scholarship programme.
Today some 60 of our students are pursuing tertiary level training in Taiwan, improving our human capacity and capability.
Our students currently studying here have all expressed a sense of comfort, satisfaction and confidence over the stellar treatment accorded to them by the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and your institutions of higher learning.
Madam President, the affinity the citizens of my country feel for Taiwan and its people has ensured that Taiwan’s demand for respect and inclusion can find a voice through our voice…that Taiwan’s request for a seat at the international table is firmly and adequately conveyed through our many declarations. We strongly believe that Taiwan with its vast talents, technology and other resources can contribute to the resolution of many of the global challenges.
Unwavering in our support, St. Kitts and Nevis has always stood with Taiwan and we shall continue to cement the bonds of friendship. Ours has been a friendship that has withstood global, political, and social changes and in this new era, it is our hope that we both secure a future for our people that accords with the mandate given to us. The bedrock of our relations, which is our shared values, adherence to the rule of law and democratic principles, has established a foundation that transcends geographical barriers, differences in language and culture. I give my full assurance and commitment to further strengthening our longstanding advocacy and affinity for each other.
Standing here today, filled with pride for everything we have accomplished together, I wish to dedicate this distinguished award to the patriotic people of St. Kitts and Nevis in recognition of our deep, unwavering friendship, which began in 1981 with an agricultural cooperation agreement and deepened when diplomatic ties were formalized on September 23rd, 1983, just four days after the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis attained Independence. I am doubly dedicated to building on the rich diplomatic legacy that the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis share. In my view, never has there been a more propitious time to deepen both our partnership and our resolve.
I now invite you to raise your glasses in a toast to the enduring friendship between the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Long live the people of Taiwan. Long live the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. Long live our outstanding friendship…Cheers.