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President Chen Shui-Bian has created history as the first president of the Republic of China on Taiwan who has had the distinguished honour of addressing the parliament of a foreign nation.

Thursday, September 29 will go down in the annals of Vincentian history as the day when this historic event took place.{{more}}

Less than 24 hours after arriving here, President Chen addressed our highest legislative body.

He described St.Vincent and the Grenadines as an icon of democracy in the Caribbean as he praised this country’s constitutional reform efforts. He said our process will serve as a precedent to other countries desiring constitutional reform.

The president also praised this country for its support and calls for Taiwan to join international organizations.

“St.Vincent and the Grenadines is an emerald in the eyes of God,” said President Chen adding that he is sure some members of his delegation are reluctant to return home.

In his address, Prime Minister Gonsalves welcomed President Chen and his delegation to Parliament:

“I welcome you to Parliament, the home of our democracy,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister used the opportunity to give President Chen a historical account of colonialism in the Caribbean dating from European conquest to adult suffrage. He also spoke about St.Vincent and

the Grenadines’ attainment of independence from Britain in 1979.

Dr. Gonsalves’ heaped commendations on Sir Vincent Beache, the senior statesman in the Unity Labour Party (ULP) for the pivotal role that he played alongside the late Prime Minister Robert Milton Cato in establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan 24 years ago.

He expressed the view that every administration that has governed this country has built upon this vital relationship which he described as an unbreakable nexus.

Dr. Gonsalves reiterated to Parliament a point he made recently when he addressed the United Nations that St.Vincent and the Grenadines unequivocally supports the request of Taiwan to be represented at the United Nations and other international bodies.

The Prime Minister said it is unfair, unreasonable, and irrational to exclude a country of 23 million people with nobility of purpose from the United Nations.

He again called upon the United Nations to take the lead in promoting constructive dialogue and friendly engagement between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC).

Dr.Gonsalves pointed out that St.Vincent and the Grenadines has been the beneficiary of Taiwan’s generosity over the years.

He praised Taiwan for the assistance in areas such as the construction of the Cross Country Road, the funding of scholarships for Vincentians to pursue studies in Taiwan, the Youth Empowerment Programme, the building of learning resource centres, the National Public Library and the proposed international airport at Argyle, the largest capital project the state will ever undertake.

Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace addressing Parliament, warmly welcomed President Chen and his delegation on behalf of the New Democratic Party, which he heads.

“My Party is very proud of the fact that for 17 years of this relationship (24 years of diplomatic relations) we the New Democratic Party were the elected government of this country,” said Eustace.

Eustace praised the efforts of Her Excellency Ambassador Elizabeth Chu towards the deepening of diplomatic ties between her country, the Republic of China on Taiwan and St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

The former Prime Minister hailed this country’s two leading political parties for maintaining the relationship with Taiwan over the years.

Eustace brought great laughter to the House of Assembly when he told President Chen that he expected that after the next elections, the president’s administration will be doing business with the New Democratic Party again.

At the end of Eustace’s speech Parliament adjourned and Prime Minister Gonsalves took President Chen on a tour of the Vegetable Market.

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