SANDALS GRANDE RESORT, GROS ISLET, SAINT LUCIA: I am pleased to address you this evening, as we have gathered to commemorate what is known as Double Tenth Day, the tenth of October. And though we meet this evening, on the ninth of October, the morning of the tenth of October has already come to Taipei, making the timing of this function most appropriate.
On the tenth of October, in the year 1911, in the city of Wuchang in Hubei Province, the collapse of the nearly three centuries old last and largest ever dynasty of China, the Qing dynasty, began.
Even in the thousands of years of history of the Chinese people,it is a most notable day. It is a day which in many ways represents the power of people to stand up to abuse and oppression, whether generated domestically or externally.
It represents an awakening, a rebirth, the start of a reformation. This Wuchang Rebellion led to the declaration of independence of the provinces across the mainland, and the eventual declaration of the Republic of China.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to memorialize what is National Day for the Republic of China, because it supports an important juncture in the history and political development of the people of Taiwan.
FINDING COMMON PATHS
Saint Lucia will always respect its friends and their traditions. And even though our paths through this world appear so divergent, we recognise the struggle of all peoples in their search for freedom. And we must, for we have had our own struggles. Our descendents were compelled to cross the vast Atlantic Ocean, and to inhabit this small island in the Atlantic.
We were placed into an economic system that saw human beings as just another disposable factor of production.
And so, we understand and appreciate the exodus of your people to the island of Taiwan, an island which itself was once a colony of Japan, used for the planting of sugar cane, just as we had here in Saint Lucia.
I believe that the Portuguese had named your island Ilha Formosa. And this name Ilha Formosa means “beautiful island.”
And so, even as we join you in celebrating your one hundred and first National Day here this evening, I can assure you that while you have left one beautiful island, that is Taiwan, you should feel right at home upon another beautiful island, that is Saint Lucia. Our paths meet as we bridge the gap between Asia and the West Indies.
Ladies and gentlemen, the world a century ago was a remarkably different place than it is today. Yet, there was and there still is a deep, burning desire for women and men to prosper, for all women and men to have rights, for women and men to be treated equally and with respect. How we dealt with our differences then, however, was fraught with war, insurrection and violence. Today, we, for the most part, know better.
Taiwan and Asia in general have come a long way since 1912.The entire world has witnessed the remarkable transformation of Eastern Asia. With its fierce independence, Asia has managed to adapt the best of the West in terms of technology, education and innovation.
The dynastic rulers of the past have generally made way to more democratic rule throughout Asia. And while there have been grave concerns in the past, such as in Vietnam and Myanmar, and there still exists tension such as between the Koreas there appears to be a continuous trend towards greater equity, justice and peaceful resolution across the East.
Asia has shown that humanity can overcome its differences, it can raise people out of poverty, it can embrace science, technology, innovation and new ideas, while still maintaining its rich cultures and traditions.
THE TAIWAN DRAGON
There is no doubt that Taiwan, a small part of the vast continent, as it may be, is at the centre of this movement in Asia. With your “miracle growth”, you were described in the 1980s and 90s, as one of the Four Asian Tigers, or Dragons. You held this distinction along with Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.
You have managed to move the economy of Taiwan from an agrarian based economy in the 1960s to a high tech manufacturing and services based economy, with a GDP of over 20,000 US dollars per person, in half a century. What was dubbed the Ten Major Construction Projects of the 1970s; which consisted of building two major ports, the north-south National Highway 1, the airport now known as Taipei-Taoyuan International Airport, railways lines, a nuclear power plant, a shipyard, a steel factory and industrial park, laid the basis for your economic expansion.
EMPHASIS ON EDUCATION
However, it is your strong emphasis on education, innovation and private enterprise that has unleashed your remarkable potential. You did not leave behind your agricultural sector, which you modernised to become a major exporter. Today, Taiwan is also major exporter of electronics and consumer goods. Undoubtedly, Taiwan is a model for prosperity and development. It is, I believe, one of the top twenty largest economies in the world.
It has embraced a futuristic path in a powerful way and is a major manufacturer of computing and information technology hardware and software.
SYNERGISING THE POSSIBILITIES
You have moved from being an aid recipient from the United States during the 1960s, to being an aid donor to many countries around the world. And we here in Saint Lucia continue to be the beneficiaries of your assistance.
The Government of Saint Lucia is appreciative of the aid contributions by the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan. We welcome the continued cooperation of the assistance of Taiwan in areas of technology, particularly ICT, in the modernisation of our agricultural and agro-processing sector, in healthcare and in sport. We hope that this cooperation can be greatly expanded to synergise the possibilities for exchange between our two countries.
A NEW SAINT LUCIA
Saint Lucia has many real challenges to face as a small island, developing state, with a small economic base and vulnerable position. We want to build a new Saint Lucia. We want to become a resilient, diversified, competitive and sustainable economy that is built on the human capacity of our people.
Institutions such as the World Bank and even the agencies of the United Nations seek to graduate us from aid, despite our peculiar realities. And so, we welcome all the assistance we can get, provided that it is well targeted and received transparently. In particular, we can see many new areas of possibility for assistance in diversifying our economy: in the development of our culture, new media and the Creative Industries, in the Maritime sector, in the Information Technology sector, and in the Clean Technologies sector.
And of course, fundamentally, we wish to modernise our education system so that it outputs the proud, committed citizen with technical and vocational skills that would attract investment for a knowledge-based economy. We believe Taiwan’s expertise in itself achieving this can be shared to realise the same for Saint Lucia, even with our cultural differences and particular nuance.
DEVELOPMENT BEYOND AID
However, we all know of the limits of economic assistance. Certainly, what would be ideal is if we might see the opportunity to joint partnerships with Taiwan, and specifically the possibility of Taiwanese companies investing in Saint Lucia, bringing in foreign direct investment and creating long term, sustainable jobs within our region. As I have intimated to His Excellency the Ambassador before, our principal focus as a Government is on job creation.
While we have engaged Taiwanese assistance in the interim to provide relief through the Constituency Development Programme, creating jobs in the construction sector, we know that attracting investment will be key to Saint Lucia’s long term economic sustainability. Taiwan has a number of sectors which would be of interest to Saint Lucia, and which partnership should be possible.
For instance, you are the world’s second largest producer of solar panels, producing nearly three times that of the United States. You are one of the world’s largest builders of yachts. Saint Lucia has lots of sunshine, and wants to become a green economy. Likewise, we have a yachting sector with immense potential.
We believe we are well positioned to become partners with Taiwan in these sectors, and our countries should explore more deeply these possibilities, particularly the possibilities of private sector partnerships and investment.
FUSING OUR CULTURES, OUR PEOPLES
Moreover, ladies and gentlemen, the average Saint Lucian must get a chance to appreciate the rich culture and traditions of Taiwan and of Asia. Our people need to understand how your people live. And we welcome your people to understand how our people live. As I have said elsewhere, diplomatic ties are essentially about relations between people.
So we need to increase the opportunities for social dialogue between our peoples. For example, our cultures both have a rich culture of “the market.” I welcome you to embrace our Castries Market, for instance; a market that has been rated as one of the best in the world by National Geographic Magazine.
You, on the other hand, have your own rich tradition of “night markets.” Perhaps there is scope; perhaps there exist possibilities, for a marrying of the night market concept into the Castries Market to create a new and vibrant product.
Again, both our peoples have a rich history of ties to the sea and the water. We have our fishing villages with their canoes, and you have your traditional dragon boats. You have your Dragon Boat festivals on the Double Fifth Day, on the fifth day of the fifth month.
Perhaps there exists opportunities for cultural exchanges with our fishing villages to realise a boating festival right here in Saint Lucia, where we marry the concepts of the dragon-boat and our traditional canoe.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are many possibilities for sharing our two different cultures. It must be both ways. We wish to share with you our culture, our music, our artistes, our ideas and dreams; and likewise we wish to learn and experience yours as well – your rich history, your philosophy, your fashion, your style, your way.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, for our two cultures to advance harmoniously, we must see more than just Government-to-Government relations. Our Governments must catalyse the process to realise business-to-business partnerships, and people-to-people partnerships as well.
CELEBRATING THE PEOPLE OF TAIWAN
And so, on this night, we celebrate the people of Taiwan, its leaders, its workers, its communities. We congratulate its people from Taipei to Taichung and throughout. We congratulate its Government for its peaceful stance and its commitment to positive Cross-straights relations.
On this one hundred and first anniversary of the tenth of October, we can celebrate the ingenuity of its people in its feats of architecture and engineering, in building a structure like Taipei 101, the first building in the world to be scale over half a kilometre into the sky.
We can celebrate the generosity of its people, in the many projects that it has undertaken in Saint Lucia, and in their continued commitment to promoting development in Saint Lucia. We can celebrate the 101st National Day while using an Acer laptop of Asus tablet, or some other product Made in Taiwan.
And so, on behalf of the Government and People of Saint Lucia, I wish to extend our warmest congratulations to the Government and People of the Republic of China on Taiwan, on the attainment of such a remarkable milestone. May the thousands of years of the Chinese Civilisation live on and prosper.
I thank you.