My name is Ernesto Cooke, on behalf of News784, I must express thanks to His Excellency Ambassador Ho, for affording us this one on one, casual interview. The people of Taiwan are truly a humble people, they believe in humanity above all.
Q1： Ambassador, It’s a pleasure to have you to speak to our readers again. Would you like to start this interview with a briefing on the current cooperations between Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
Amb：Thank you very much for having me with you today! 2019 was a fruitful year for the bilateral ties of our two countries. In mid-July, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China (Taiwan) undertook her Journey of “Freedom, Democracy and Sustainability”, which included state visits to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 3 other Caribbean countries – Haiti, Saint Christopher and Nevis and Saint Lucia. These visits have no doubt further strengthened the friendship with our diplomatic allies in this region. Speak of this, I want to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the government and people of St. Vincent and Grenadines for the warm hospitality and courtesy during President Tsai’s visit. And you know, following President Tsai’s visit, Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines also paid a state visit to Taiwan in August, and opened SVG’s Embassy in Taiwan. This is another milestone in our bilateral relations. In addition to these said high level state visits of both countries’ leaders, we have continued to enjoy abundant harvest of our bilateral cooperation projects in fields of Education, Agriculture, ICT, Public Health, and so on. I would say, Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines share closer relations now than ever.
Q2：You just mentioned about the bilateral cooperation projects, which attract Vincentian’s attention pretty much, would you please talk more about the details of those projects?
Amb：The Republic of China (Taiwan) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have established diplomatic relations since August 15, 1981. During the past nearly 4 decades, our cooperation has been bearing juicy fruits in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, public health and health care, information and communication, education, human resources and cultural exchanges.
The agriculture cooperation is one of the pillars that demonstrate the solidarity between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan. The “Banana Revitalization Project”, which both our governments have signed early May last year, will share Taiwan’s agricultural know-how to work closely with Vincentian farmers to combat the local banana disease and revitalize its banana industry.
In the ICT field, both our governments are collaborating on the new “eBus/CCTV Project”, which will facilitate Vincentian public to commute efficiently. This project will make St. Vincent and the Grenadines not only the first country using smart transportation system in the Caribbean region, but also helps the Vincentian police authority to keep order with modern ICT technology through CCTV.
In the field of public health, the project of “Capacity Building Project for the Prevention and Control of Diabetes” has launched since February 2018. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes are never easy to tackle. It is also one of the most common diseases in Taiwan. Nevertheless, in Taiwan, we established a framework which integrates various levels of health facilities to strengthen the capacity of prevention and control. Some of our experiences will be shared through the project.
In addition to the public health project, two medical teams organized by Mackay Memorial Hospital and Changhua Christian Hospital respectively visited St. Vincent and the Grenadines last September one after another. Mackay Memorial Hospital delegation has signed a MOU with Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to formalize their sister hospital relationship. Meanwhile, Changhua Christian Hospital gave volunteer medical consultation to benefit local patients.
All our bilateral projects are aimed to reach out our Vincentian friends who are in need.
Q3：We have been hearing the compliments towards your country from those Vincentian who have been there before, please share us with some achievements of Taiwan in the recent years.
Amb.：I would like to share with you several facts in the different dimensions:
- Regarding our economic performance:The Global Competitiveness Report 2018, published by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, ranked Taiwan 13th in the world among 140 countries surveyed. Taiwan was also recognized as one of four super innovators and shared the top spot in macro-economic stability.
- Regarding the success in attracting foreign investments:In 2018, my government established the InvesTaiwan Service Center to attract businesses and improve Taiwan’s investment environment. Foreign enterprises have since increased investments in Taiwan.
- As a mature democracy, Taiwan also plays a responsible and constructive role in the international community. Through diverse international cooperation and humanitarian assistance, we rely on the strengths of our non-governmental organizations and coordinate with the United Nations’ SDGs as we spread our warm power in a positive, pragmatic, and sincere manner.
Q4：On behalf of News784’s readers, I would like to send warmest congratulations on the successful re-election of President Tsai. Do you wish to make any additional remarks on the election?
Amb: Thank you very much. It’s pleasant to know that lots of our Vincentian friends pay attention to our Presidential Election. Special thanks to Governor General, Mrs. Susan Dougan, Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker, and some other good friends, for sending the congratulatory messages to us.
I would like to make some extra points to respond Chinese government’s comment made after our election:
- The international community widely recognizes the democratic achievements symbolized by our recent elections. Following Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections on January 11, 2020, prominent political figures and individuals friendly to Taiwan from more than 80 nations and international organizations – including Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies and some other countries, conveyed congratulatory messages to Taiwan via letters, telegrams, and social media posts.
- Taiwan always makes every effort to maintain the cross-strait status quo on the premise of safeguarding national sovereignty.
- According to public opinion polls in Taiwan, nearly 90 percent of people in Taiwan reject the “one country, two systems” formula. China must carefully consider the aspirations and strong message expressed by the Taiwanese people in our recent elections.
- On the basis of the existing solid foundation, Taiwan looks forward to continuing to deepen friendship and cooperation with all countries and international organizations and make concrete contributions to the international community.
Q5 : Before the election, your Government implemented the “Anti-Infiltration Act”. Would you please give us some background of this act?
Amb.: Yes, we just implemented the “Anti-Infiltration Act” to safeguard democracy and ensure stable, orderly cross-strait exchanges:
- In recent years, some authoritarian regimes have redoubled efforts to manipulate, penetrate, and intervene in other democratic nations to distort and thereby pose a threat to the fundamental values and processes of free democracies. Legislation to strengthen democracies’ defenses has become an international trend.
- Our Legislative Yuan passed the Anti-Infiltration Act on December 31, 2019. The Act complements existing laws governing lobbying, political donations, referendums, and presidential, vice presidential, and civil servant elections and recalls. It specifies the actors and types of behavior the law applies to, and what penalties may be imposed. By doing so, the Act safeguards democracy, sovereignty, and a free and democratic constitutional order.
- The Anti-Infiltration Act prevents political manipulation behind the scenes by hostile foreign forces; it simplifies cross-strait exchanges by preventing unnecessary intervention and ensures that our citizens can continue exchanges. The Act is centered on the core values of democracy.
Q6：At the end of our interview, would you say a few words to News784’s readers for the coming new year of 2020?
Amb：2019 is a remarkable year for both Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Especially, St. Vincent and the Grenadines just celebrated the 40th anniversary of Independence Day; also not to forget your triumph to be a Non-Permanent member of the UN Security Council.
For all our Vincentian friends, I would like to express my deepest appreciations for your precious friendship and firm support not only to our Embassy but also to my country.
Meanwhile, I also want to extend my gratitude to your good government for supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international mechanisms. I think you must have learned about the outbreak of the “2019 novel coronavirus” recently. No country in our global world could avoid impact caused by this epidemic. Taiwan is ready and able to work with all other countries to combat this disease. The continued support from St. Vincent and the Grenadines for our participation in the World Health Organization would be very much appreciated.
I wish all Vincentians a happy 2020. This year is also the year of the Rat according to our culture, which has being seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. I would take this opportunity to wish all Vincentian friends a very successful and prosperous year of the Rat!