/ Staff writer, with CNA
President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） yesterday pledged to share the Taiwanese values of freedom, democracy and sustainability with the world as she embarked on a 12-day state visit to four Caribbean diplomatic allies, during which she is also to make a stopover in two US cities.
“This visit is called the ‘Tour for Freedom, Democracy and Sustainability,’ because freedom, democracy and sustainability are the Taiwanese values we want to share with all our good friends in the world,” Tsai said in a short speech prior to her departure from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
During the trip — which is to take her to Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia, as well as New York and Denver, Colorado — she is to deliver three messages from Taiwan to the world, Tsai said.
First, as an oceanic nation and a member of the global community, Taiwan shares the values of freedom and openness, Tsai said, adding that she plans to seek greater international space and more business opportunities for the nation.
“We will by no means restrict ourselves to a small corner of the Taiwan Strait,” she said.
Second, Taiwan would staunchly safeguard democratic institutions, because its hard-earned democracy is facing external threats and infiltration, Tsai said.
As other democratic nations are also facing similar challenges, Taiwan “will cooperate with like-minded countries to ensure that our democratic institutions remain strong,” she said.
Third, the nation would endeavor to promote international cooperation based on the principles of mutual assistance and reciprocity, and with the goal of facilitating sustainable development, whether in agriculture, medical care, maritime security, clean energy or combating climate change, she said.
“We will follow the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and take advantage of technological advances to make more contributions to our allies and the world,” Tsai added.
The visit — Tsai’s seventh since taking office in May 2016 — has attracted significant media attention due to the planned transit stop in New York, as it is one of the most influential metropolises in the US, and a cultural, financial and media capital.
Some analysts are also waiting to see if Tsai will be able to make any “diplomatic breakthroughs” while in the US.
The Presidential Office has not revealed any details of Tsai’s US transit stops, but local media have reported that the president is to meet with US Senator Cory Gardner and other legislators who support Taiwan during her stopovers.
There has also been speculation that Tsai plans to make a public speech at Columbia University in New York, but the Presidential Office on Wednesday called the reports inaccurate.
“We are still making detailed arrangements for [Tsai’s] state visit and stopovers. Based on mutual trust between Taiwan and the US, we will make necessary announcements at an opportune time,” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang （張惇涵） said.
President Tsai Ing-wen speaks to passengers on a China Airlines airplane’s tannoy system yesterday after takeoff on the first leg of a 12-day state visit to four Caribbean diplomatic allies. Photo: CNA