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Mar 16, 2016

Taiwanese President Arrives in Belize on Farewell Tour

Outgoing Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou touched down in Belize shortly before eleven o’clock this morning, following the arrivals of the prime ministers of St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.  The occasion of his visit is to bid farewell to the Jewel, one of Taiwan’s strongest allies in the international community.  The Phillip Goldson International Airport was alive with activity and security around the perimeter was at an all-time high.  Members of the Taiwanese community descended en masse in anticipation of the president’s second coming.  His overnight trip comes with a packed itinerary and includes a roundtable with government leaders.  That discussion is presently underway at the Radisson.  The atmosphere at the P.G.I.A. was festive and alive with activity.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has that story.

 

Jason Chang

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The arrival of President Ma Ying-jeou by private charter this morning was met with ovation by members of the local Taiwanese community.  Assembled a short distance away from the tarmac, the small group proudly waved the Flag of the Republic of China as the delegation of government officials made its way towards the VIP Room.

 

Jason Chang

“This is the first time I am seeing him here and I think it’s very exciting for the community here to see him visit us here.”

 

Orin Wu

The brief meet and greet preceded several items on the itinerary for the overnight stay.  This is the outgoing head of state’s second visit to Belize during his incumbency.  Orin Wu is a print journalist and has been residing here for the past three years.

 

Orin Wu

“This is the second time I’ve seen Mr. Ma Ying-jeou, our president, come to Belize.  I am very happy to see him again.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now in terms of putting this together in a story to send back home, what are some of the angle that you’re looking at in terms of this visit?”

 

Orin Wu

“Because we’re changing government on May twentieth, that means we have a new president entering office from a different party but a lot of people think the relationship between Taiwan and its allies in Central America and the Caribbean will be changed.  So I think Mr. Ma coming this time to visit two of our allies, Guatemala and Belize, I think it will strengthen and emphasize [the fact that] the allied relationship with Taiwan won’t change even with a change of government because Taiwan is already a diplomatic country.”

 

During President Ma’s statement upon arriving in the Jewel, he acknowledged Belize as, “one of the staunchest allies of the Republic of China (Taiwan).  Over the years, our two countries have collaborated closely in perfect harmony in a wide array of fields, and stride forward hand in hand in the international community.  Belize has rendered strong support to the Republic of China (Taiwan) for its continuing campaigns for participation in international organizations.”

 

Benjamin Ho

President Ma will demit office on May twentieth, and will be succeeded by Taiwan’s first female head of state, President-elect Tsai Ing-wen.  His trip to Belize is the last leg of a farewell tour of the hemisphere.  Previous visits included the United States and Guatemala.  In a previous interview with News Five, Ambassador Benjamin Ho spoke on the importance of the goodbye visit.

 

Benjamin Ho, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize [File: March 3rd, 2016]

“This trip is very important for President Ma; he expressed his special attachment to the country visits. There are only three countries that he is going to visit including Belize, Guatemala and United States. So you can imagine Belize has a very important part in his heart.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of logistics and the planning process in terms of putting everything together so the visit runs smoothly. What has that been like and what are some of the calls or stops that he will be making once in Belize?”

 

Benjamin Ho

“He is going to fly from the United States to Guatemala and then Belize. Of course there will be an inclusion of high ranking officers including reporters, media from TV and papers from Taiwan. There will be a lot of logistical work to be done. The staff from my embassy we are preparing all this now, working closely with our counterparts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are trying to make sure that his trip here is comfortable and as smoothly.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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