Dr Tsai Ing wen (SKNIS)
BASSETERRE – The long-standing friendship between the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis and the Republic of China (Taiwan) will be in the spotlight when Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris leads a delegation to the inauguration of that country’s first female president-elect, Dr Tsai Ing-Wen, on May 20.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which Dr Tsai joined in 2004 and became the chairwoman in 2008, swept to power in the January 16, 2016 elections winning 6.9 million votes or 56 per cent of the total, beating the Kuomintang or Nationalist Party, which garnered 3.8 million votes or 31 per cent of the total. A third party took the remainder.
In 2012, Dr Tsai lost her first bid for the presidency to the incumbent Ma Ying-jeou and resigned as chairwoman of the DPP after the defeat. In 2014, she resumed her position as the chairwoman of the DPP and made her second attempt at the presidency, which proved successful.
In commenting on whether Taiwan was ready to embrace a woman president in a speech to the Council on Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C, Dr Tsai said: “Of course, there are some people in Taiwan that are still rather traditional and they have some hesitation in considering a woman president. But among the younger generation, I think they are generally excited about the idea of having a woman leader. They think it is rather trendy.”
In a congratulatory message on January 17 to Dr Tsai on her party’s election victory, Prime Minister Harris wrote: “The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has over the past 32 years developed a strong bond of friendship with the Republic of China (Taiwan). This relationship is cemented by our deep and abiding shared interests and values. It is my hope that under your able leadership that we will continue to build upon this foundation and that the relations between St Kitts and Nevis and Taiwan will continue to produce mutual benefits in the coming years.”
Dr Tsai, 59, is a lawyer by training. She first studied at National Taiwan University and later achieved a Master’s from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.
Taiwan and St Kitts and Nevis have partnered in many areas including agriculture, education, renewable energy, and law enforcement. St Kitts and Nevis has repeatedly called for Taiwan’s inclusion as a member of the United Nations body.
Taiwan is only recognised by 21 United Nations member states, as well as by the Holy See.
Prime Minister Harris said that he wishes the new president and her government well and looks forward to working together.
“As the Republic of China (Taiwan) ushers in a new era, the road ahead will be challenging but I wish to assure you, your Excellency, that the team Unity Government of St. Kitts and Nevis remains committed to the Government and people of Taiwan. We look forward to working with your government; exploring innovative avenues for enhanced cooperation as together we work towards the development and prosperity of our two nations,” Prime Minister Harris said to the new leader in his congratulatory letter. (SKNIS)