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New Sister City Relationship Established between Taipei, Belmopan

* Fully supported by Speaker Chen Chin-hsiang of Taipei City Council (TCC), Taipei City Government and the city of Belmopan, Taipei and Belmopan officially forged a sister city alliance at Taipei City Hall on the morning of April 29.

Mayor Ko Wen-je expressed special thanks to Speaker Chen. Collaboration between TCC and the city government resulted in an important milestone for city diplomacy; while making friends internationally, Taipei City’s global visibility is also enhanced. He also thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for serving as the intermediary that contributed to the success. It was a great example of the central government working together with the local government for the strengthening of diplomatic relations.

In the beginning of his speech, Mayor Ko first welcomed Mayor Khalid Belisle to Taipei on behalf of Taipei City Government and the people of Taipei City. He pointed out that Belize is located in a critical geological location in Central America and, just like Taiwan, it is a small but beautiful country. In addition to its zero-pollution marine ecosystem, Belize also owns the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere that is loved by diving enthusiasts all over the world. Belize also boasts abundant rainforest ecosystems and the many Mayan ruins historical sites. Diverse ethnic groups and cultures constitute the people of Belize and live in harmony with one another.

The mayor pointed out that the Belizean Embassy also participated in the Taipei Lantern Festival for the first time in February. Its lantern displaying the Great Blue Hole, a famous U.N. World Heritage site, was highly rated by the city residents. Ko believes now that the two cities have sworn a sister city alliance together, the people of Taipei City and Belmopan will both soon benefit from the sister city relationship.

Giving high praise to Mayor Belisle who is merely 38 years old, Ko noted that his counterpart is already an accomplished politician. With Mayor Belisle’s information technology background, Ko affirmed the many ideals and visions for city governance possessed by the mayor of Belmopan. Taipei City is highly advanced in its information and communication industries, and Ko has also offered to lend his resources in case Mayor Belisle needs any assistance from Taipei.

Mentioning that 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Belize, Ko said he felt extremely honored that the two countries’ capital cities were able to achieve the milestone of forming the sister city alliance. He aspired that people from the two cities will both enjoy better living standards and that the two cities will have more opportunities to learn from each other.

During his address, Mayor Belisle stated that the two cities’ sister city alliance is a critical milestone for the relationship between the two countries. He felt extremely happy that Taipei City is Belmopan’s first sister city. He also pointed out that during the four years serving as Belmopan’s mayor, he has visited many countries and has found similar issues in many cities; Mayor Belisle has thereby been searching for successful models in other cities as reference. During this trip to Taipei, he has set forth two key learning points: one being public transportation, and the other being the social security system with regards to the underprivileged, young, and seniors. He felt that Taipei City has done a splendid job in regards to these aspects and would like to use this opportunity to learn more from it.

Later, mayors from the two cities and Speaker Chen Chin-hsiang co-signed the joint declaration. Mayor Ko also presented the Key to the City and Chintang tea set to Mayor Belisle before the closure of the alliance ceremony.

The Secretariat of the Taipei City Government stated that the alliance could be traced back to February of this year when Mayor Belisle of Belmopan and Mayor Ko both attended the International Mayors Conference in Israel. At that time, both mayors had already arrived at a consensus over the sister city partnership and reinforcing the collaboration of these two cosmopolitan cities. Shortly after returning to Belize, Mayor Belisle initiated the process with Taipei City Government via Taiwan Embassy in Belize with regards to subsequent details. After intensive communications and negotiations between the governments, the official sister city relation was finally realized.

The Secretariat also pointed out that Taipei City has established sister city ties with 49 cities across 35 countries ever since its first sister city relationship with Houston, Texas of the U.S., forged on June 15, 1961. Taipei also has 3 partner cities and 5 friendship cities. Belmopan is also the fourth sister city allied with Taipei City since Mayor Ko took office (Wellington, capital city of New Zealand in 2015; Quito, capital city of Ecuador in 2017; Castries, capital city of St. Lucia in 2018; and Belmopan, capital city of Belize in 2019).