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Apr 29, 2008

Taiwan Navy drops anchor in Belize City Harbour

Story PictureThey are a long way from home, particularly for a force whose main task is to guard its island homeland from invasion by a sometimes belligerent mainland. But the Navy of the Republic of China on Taiwan has other missions … including the promotion of goodwill between friends. And, as News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports, that’s what today’s welcome ceremony was all about.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
As part of the official visit of the Midshipman Training and Cruising Squadron, this afternoon Taiwanese marines entertained officials from the Belize National Coast Guard, the diplomatic corps, invited guests and school children with their regimented excellence in marching music …

… a weapons display

… and marital arts.

This is the second time the Taiwanese squadron has visited Belize since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1989. The three ships with their eight hundred officers and marines anchored in the Belize City Harbour this morning and are led by Rear Admiral Chen.

Zenaida Moya, Belize City Mayor
“Your visit may be short but we hope that your future travels will bring you back to our friendly shores. Today we make much of you as you spend these few days with us. We hope that you will enjoy your short stay as we remind you that Belize is your home too.”

Like Belize, Taiwan recently held national elections but according to ambassador Ting Joseph Shih, Taiwan’s cooperation with Belize will only strengthen.

Ting Joseph Shih, Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize
“Both new governments are committed to deepening the cooperation relationship between our two countries. I believe, therefore, that the visit of this squadron to Belize is a renewed testimony to the mutual understanding and the bilateral friendship and will further strengthen the cooperation between our two countries.”

Taiwan is a major pillar in Belize’s development, playing a key role in everything from agricultural training to balance of payment support. According to Commandant Cedric Borland, that help will now extend to the Belize National Coast Guard.

Commandant Cedric Borland, Belize Coast Guard
“In a short discussion this morning, we spoke about equipment and training. As you know Taiwan information and communication technology is well advanced and that is one of the areas we want to tap into.”

Janelle Chanona
“As far as funding for local initiatives that you will take on? I know the B.D.F. had broached that subject. Are you also asking them about financing so to speak?”

Commandant Cedric Borland
“Yes. We haven’t discussed that topic and I will arrange a meeting with the Ambassador of Taiwan to look at several areas where we can benefit from.”

Carlos Perdomo, Minister of National Security
“For our part, Belize stands ready to support the Taiwanese forces in any training efforts that they would like to undertake in the country. As you know, Belize offers a wonderful opportunity for them to develop their jungle fighting skills and I am pleased to announce that later this year we will have six Taiwanese officers on our jungle welfare instructor course, which is directed by our very own B.D.F.”

During their visit to Belize, the Taiwanese marines will face off with soldiers from the Belize Defence Force in a basketball game, visit archaeological and cultural sites in the Cayo District and make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Dean Barrow. The squadron’s Central American tour will continue with stops in Honduras and Panama. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

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