Republic of China/Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen received a standing ovation at Nitijela Tuesday following her announcement that Taiwan will allow Marshall Islanders visa-free entry to Taiwan in the near future.
Tsai is the first foreign head of state to address a session of parliament.
Before addressing President Tsai, Parliament Speaker Kenneth Kedi recognized former President Imata Jabro Kabua for establishing diplomatic links with Taiwan in 1998. Kedi then urged those gathered to welcome Tsai and her delegation.
Kedi called Tsai’s visit to Nitijela a “milestone,” and added that the two had met and talked in Taiwan where Kedi emphasized the positive impact on the community of returning Marshallese students who studied in Taiwan. It was during that meeting that Tsai promised to increase financial support to Marshall Islands and gave a “heads up” that she would visit RMI — both of which, Kedi shared in Nitijela, had materialized with this week’s visit and signing of the “ROC Taiwan-RMI Presidents’ Scholarship Fund” Monday soon after Tsai’s arrival in Majuro.
“Speaker Kedi has visited Taiwan annually for the past two years,” Tsai said. “He is a close friend who understands our political relationship.”
Tsai pointed out that her government had deployed 23 medical teams in the past three years to help out in the hospital through the ongoing RMI-Taiwan Shuang Ho Hospital partnership.
Gift exchange between Kedi and Tsai concluded the formal event.
Tsai and a large entourage arrived Majuro Monday afternoon to a big welcome, with President Hilda Heine greeting the ROC President as she deplaned. A police honor guard, youth attired in Marshallese traditional outfits, flag-waving school children, national anthems and brief speeches, and dozens of Taiwan media made for a unique airport reception.
Tsai’s two-days of activities segued to the ICC, where Presidents Heine and Tsai signed a scholarship agreement. The RMI government hosted a state dinner at Marshall Islands Resort Monday, with entertainment by Kwajalein Senator/Iroij Mike Kabua’s jobwa dancers and others. Tuesday evening, President Tsai reciprocated with a dinner at the ICC.
She also visited the Taiwan Technical Mission in Laura Tuesday afternoon.
The group left to Tuvalu Wednesday morning for a day visit. They were scheduled to return to Majuro Wednesday evening for onward travel to the Solomon Islands, the third and last nation in President Tsai’s first Pacific islands tour.
Read more about this in the November 3, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.