Premier Su Tseng-chang on Monday received a joint delegation of parliamentarians from three Baltic states, including the heads of their Taiwan friendship groups. After extending a warm welcome, the premier said that though Taiwan and the three Baltic states are far apart geographically, we are the same in that we do not fear authoritarian regimes, and possess the courage to fight for universal values like democracy, freedom, and human rights. The premier expressed hope that in the future all sides can deepen the ideals and values of democracy and freedom, while diversifying cooperation in economics and trade to benefit each other, increase prosperity, and improve the well-being of the people.
Touching on the topic of COVID-19, Premier Su said Taiwan has closely guarded its borders for the past three years and adopted a raft of measures that have successfully limited the pandemic's spread. While the world has suffered terribly from the ravages of the pandemic, Taiwan has managed to maintain zero domestic cases of transmission. These are excellent disease prevention experiences, and Taiwan is happy to share our best practices and know-how with other countries in need. Regarding China's deliberate marginalization and suppression of Taiwan, which has kept Taiwan out of the World Health Assembly and the World Health Organization, the premier also thanked the head of Lithuania's Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan Matas Maldeikis and his fellow parliamentarians for speaking up for Taiwan through various means at international events.
China is close by, and has repeatedly declared that it will not rule out the use of force against Taiwan. Our decades of experience resisting China, the premier said, has helped us learn how to keep diseases from breaching our borders, and fend off constant disinformation campaigns. We have also learned to deal with the threats and impacts of improper trade methods used by authoritarian regimes. Meanwhile, Taiwan has seized these opportunities to develop strategic economic and trade policies and measures that have pushed our economic growth to an 11-year high.
We cannot choose our neighbors, but we can choose our friends, Premier Su continued. When a friend is in need, everyone comes together in mutual support. He took the opportunity to thank Lithuania once again for donating COVID vaccines when Taiwan was in dire need. Their donations have increased from the initially announced 20,000 doses to more than 260,000 doses presently, warming the hearts of people in Taiwan.
There are many things we can learn from the three Baltic states, Premier Su said, and many potential areas where we can develop economic and trade cooperation. Last month, National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin led a trade delegation to Central and East European countries. The premier thanked Mr. Maldeikis and the other Lithuanian parliamentarians for the warm hospitality they showed the Taiwan delegation, and the mutual exchange of views that yielded great progress. The premier hopes that in the future, Taiwan and the three Baltic countries can create more mutual benefit in many areas like trade and cooperation, and continue to deepen values like democracy and freedom.
The premier also noted that the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania officially opened on November 18, and that Lithuania will reciprocate by opening a representative office in Taiwan early next year. He also emphasized hopes for more extensive, closer ties with Estonia and Latvia, as well as more interaction and closer cooperation between Taiwan and countries around the world that are committed to values like freedom and democracy. This will allow us all to create a more potent force for a better, more peaceful world, greater well-being for our people, and greater national prosperity.
Other members of the visiting delegation at the meeting included: Jānis Vucāns, chairman of Latvia's Group for Interparliamentary Relations with Taiwan; Juri Jaanson, chairman of the Estonia-Taiwan Friendship Group; Marius Matijošaitis, deputy head of Lithuania's Parliamentary Group for Relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan); Ainars Latkovskis, deputy chairman of the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with Taiwan of the Latvian Parliament; Madis Milling, member of the Estonia-Taiwan Friendship Group; and Vytautas Gapšys, Dovilė Šakalienė, Lukas Savickas, and Rūta Miliūtė, all members of the Lithuanian Parliament.