During a visit to the Marshall Islands, President Tsai Ing-Wen announced Taiwan’s intention to extend visa waivers to its six Pacific allies “in the near future,” asserting that the move would strengthen Taiwan’s diplomatic ties with these countries. Tsai introduced the new initiative in a speech to the Marshallese parliament on October 31.
Since establishing formal relations in 1998, Taiwan and the Marshall Islands have repeatedly reaffirmed their close relationship with each other. On his first official state visit to Taiwan in 2008, former Marshall Islands President Litowka Tomeing affirmed the strong relationship between the Islands and Taiwan by referencing their close history and practical contributions.
While running for office, Tomeing had advocated for the adoption of a “one-China policy,” calling the stability of the two nations’ alliance into question. Since then, however, the Marshall Islands has firmly reiterated its recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty, with current President Hilda Heine and a delegation of officials attending Tsai’s inauguration in 2016.
Taiwan and the Marshall Islands work together in a variety of fields, including agriculture, education, health, and sustainable development. Each country’s respective Minister of Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on October 30 to establish a scholarship fund, which will finance the education of high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds. The two countries also agreed to cooperate to address immigration issues and fight against human trafficking.
Tsai’s recent visit to the Marshall Islands marked the first stop on her eight-day tour of the Pacific. Along with the Marshall Islands, Taiwan also plans to offer visa waivers to Kiribati, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Palau, and Tuvalu.