August 29, 2014
Government hosts farewell reception for Taiwanese Ambassador

Taiwanese Ambassador to this country His Excellency Weber Shih has ended his four-year stint in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Government hosted a farewell reception in his honour on August 20, at the official residence of the Prime Minister.

The three living Prime Ministers {{more}}of SVG, members of Cabinet, senior public servants, members of the Taiwanese Alumni Association, friends and well-wishers of Taiwan attended the farewell reception.

Making brief remarks at the reception, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Camillo Gonsalves pointed out that one of the first acts that SVG did in the area of foreign affairs was to forge links with Taiwan. The link was forged by the late prime minister Milton Cato and was built upon over a 17-year period under the Sir James Mitchell Government, continued under Prime Minister Arnhim Eustace and further developed and built upon by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. The Foreign Affairs Minister humorously remarked “only Taiwan could bring the three living Prime Ministers of SVG together at the same table and have them agree on one consistent policy over a 30-year period.”

The original decision to forge ties with Taiwan, which has been endorsed by successive governments, according to the Foreign Affairs Minister, “has been one of the pillars of SVG’s foreign policy and one of the corner stones of our national development.”

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said that SVG’s relationship with Taiwan is a very loving and respectful one that goes beyond the boundary of diplomacy. Eustace expressed gratitude to the outgoing Taiwanese Ambassador for the many contributions his country has made over the years to SVG and wished him all the best in his future endeavours.

Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, in his remarks at the farewell reception, said that when he formed government, his orientation was to recognize mainland China and not Taiwan. He said that he was, however, influenced to go the route of Taiwan by John Compton, the late Prime Minister of St Lucia, a decision, which he said he has not regretted. The former prime minister reminisced about his early interactions with the Taiwanese and securing funding for several projects during his time as prime minister.

And Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who has visited Taiwan some nine times since becoming Prime Minister in 2001, said in his remarks that of all the physical improvements this country has benefitted from Taiwan, like the roads, bridges and the Argyle international airport, the most important manifestation of the countries’ very strong links of solidarity is the people to people links.

The Prime Minister pointed to the successful visit of half a dozen Vincentian farmers to Taiwan and the scores of Vincentian students who have studied and are currently pursuing studies in Taiwan. “The kind of family relationship we have developed with Taiwan in such a short period of time is touching and very meaningful and these are the tides that bind,” the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile the outgoing Ambassador H.E Weber Shih said he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of gratitude. Ambassador Shih thanked successive governments for their unwavering support to his country. He singled out the administration of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, noting that “since 2001 when Dr Gonsalves’ administration took office, SVG has been the leading advocate for Taiwan’s international participation.” The Ambassador pledged to continue efforts to promote the existing cordial cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel and CEO of the International Airport Development Company Dr. Rudy Mathias all presented tokens of appreciation to Ambassador Weber Shih, while Eloise Gonsalves, wife of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, made a presentation to the Ambassador’s wife.

Ambassador Shih’s successor is expected to arrive in St Vincent and the Grenadines on September 1st, 2014.