Paraguayan president visits Kaohsiung harbor

Taipei--Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes visited Kaohsiung harbor on Thursday to learn more about the history of the southern port city and the ongoing revitalization of the area, on the last day of a state visit to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the South American country's diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Accompanied by President Tsai Ing-wen, Cartes first visited the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center, which is next to the harbor. From there, the two presidents overlooked the harbor, while Tsai introduced to her Paraguayan counterpart the development of the port.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu also gave a speech to welcome the guests in which she lauded the long-standing ties between Taiwan and Paraguay.

Kaohsiung harbor, built in the era of Japanese colonization (1895-1945), played a focal role in the heavy industry development in Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s, Chen said. The harbor is currently undergoing an industry transformation and is seeking to integrate with the technology and tourism industries, she added.

Giving a briefing on the city's latest revitalization project, the "New Bay Area," Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Shih Che said the project covers an area of 600 hectares, and is aimed at further developing the exhibition and yacht industries.

After the briefings, Cartes and Tsai boarded a yacht to tour the harbor, accompanied by Chen.

On his third visit to Taiwan since taking office as Paraguay's president in 2013, Cartes is in Taiwan to attend a series of events marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, including a painting exhibition, and to promote bilateral trade and economic exchanges, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

During talks between the two presidents the previous day, Tsai announced the offer of visa-free treatment for Paraguayan citizens, while Cartes said that his country will continue to help Taiwan take part in international organizations and activities.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of an economic cooperation agreement and the exemption of double verification of official papers.

Taiwan and Paraguay established official ties on July 12, 1957. Paraguay is the country's only diplomatic ally in South America.

Cartes' visit comes after Panama cut formal ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China on June 13, leaving Taipei with only 20 diplomatic allies.

Panama was the second country to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing since Tsai took office in May 2016, the first being the African country of Sao Tome and Principe in December 2016.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council