Front Page
September 30, 2005

President Chen Shui-bian, of the Republic of China on Taiwan and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves were expected to sign a joint communiqué yesterday promising to deepen diplomatic ties between both countries.

And the President was expected to complete his historic maiden visit to St.Vincent and the Grenadines by addressing Parliament yesterday morning. {{more}}

At 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, President Chen arrived in St.Vincent and the Grenadines onboard a LIAT aircraft, received a red carpet treatment befitting his status and was greeted with much pomp and ceremony.

Thousands of Vincentians gathered at the E.T Joshua airport to welcome the visiting leader. Persons even climbed the security fences to get a better view of President Chen. Those who could not find adequate space at the airport stayed on the main road while some persons chose to sit on nearby embankments.

The Taiwanese President will be remembered for his charisma and humourous demeanor. Addressing the large gathering, President Chen, well aware of this country’s election season, joked about vying for a seat in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. This was well appreciated by the Vincentian gathering.

“This almost feels like an election campaign,” remarked President Chen.

“So perhaps in 2008, when I’m no longer President of the Republic of China on Taiwan, maybe I should come here and run for elections,” the president said to the very amused gathering.

Taking in the warm reception the President expressed that he and his delegation could feel from the bottom of their hearts how welcomed they were.

He said St.Vincent and the Grenadines deserved the distinguished title “jewels of the Caribbean”.

President Chen expressed that he was moved as to how much effort was put to get the children to learn how to say welcome in Mandarin Chinesse.

Again, President Chen stirred laughter throughout the gathering when he said the crowd turned out in large numbers because they were given a half-holiday.

He jokingly suggested that he should visit St.Vincent and the Grenadines every month so that Vincentians would get more holidays.

President Chen disclosed that members of his delegation were fatigued after travelling for 10 days but the enthusiasm of Vincentians had rejuvenated them.

“It is our earnest hope and expectation that the enduring friendship between our two countries will not just last 25 years nor 25 plus 25 years but forever into eternity,” said President Chen.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves promised that the next time President Chen visits this country he would be flying straight to the St.Vincent and the Grenadines International Airport at Argyle, instead of the route he took through Barbados.

Dr. Gonsalves said that the President’s visit was enveloped in history making. He said it would deepen the ties that exist between St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of China on Taiwan.

The Prime Minister said he was elated to welcome President Chen to St.Vincent and the Grenadines under his leadership.

Dr. Gonsalves joined in the President in sharing a joke, stating that he has an application form for the President, maybe to run on a Unity Labour Party ticket.

“I notice my friend Arnhim is smiling,” Dr.Gonsalves mused.

Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, who earlier addressed the gathering drew reference to the similarities that Taiwan and St.Vincent and the Grenadines share, such as their multi-island states and common desire for equal rights on the world stage.

However, the Governor-General acknowledged that there were many contrasting features between both countries.

“While yours ranks among the richest ours rank among the poorest,” said Sir Frederick.

The Governor-General said it was his pleasure to welcome President Chen to St.Vincent and the Grenadines.