Taiwan-India Relations Move Forward...

Cover Story

Taiwan’s President-elect Tsai Ing-wen has broken the gender barrier to win the highest office in the land – she is the first woman without political lineage in Asia to head a government. H.E. Amb. Chung Kwang Tien talks to Diplomatist Editor-at-Large Alankar Srivastava, and shares his perspective on what is rightly referred to as the historic moment for Taiwan. Excerpts...

Q. Ever since Taiwan elected the first female President, Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), there is a feeling that it could have far reaching implication on the country’s relationship with China. Please share your views.

Madam Tsai Ing-wen is a seasoned government official and Chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Though she failed in 2012; today is a historic moment for Taiwan as she has won parliamentary majority and is the first female president-elect.

In her victory speech after victory, she said that she will build a consistent, predictable and sustainable cross-strait relationship. And the foundation for future

cross-strait relations will be based on the ROC

constitutional order, the results of cross-strait negotiations, interactions and exchanges, democratic principles and the will of the Taiwanese people. She also mentioned that both sides of the strait have a responsibility to find mutually acceptable means of interactions that are based on dignity and reciprocity. Taiwan’s democratic system, national identity and international space must be respected.

Any form of suppression will harm the stability of cross-strait relations.

Q. Where do you see Taiwan economy heading under the new government?

Taiwan needs to participate in a couple of multilateral organisations such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); together these two account for more than 70 percent of the total volume of trade. Focus must be on South East Asian countries. In fact, Taiwan’s South-bound policy matches with India’s Act East policy. Going forward, bilateral trade relations with India must be promoted. There has been 8 times growth in volume of trade between Taiwan and India from 2000 to 2014.

A lot of commonalities exist between Taiwan and India. Taiwan has set up electronic and electrical clusters at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. About 90 Taiwanese companies have set up establishments and factories in India. For example – Maxxis Tyre, China Steel, Lotus Footwear, China Trust, China Airlines, etc.

Q. Enlighten us on Taiwan-India bilateral relations.

The bilateral relation between Taiwan and India was established in 1995, and the relationship is going from strength to strength. Apart from trade and economic relations, educational centres have also been established at AMITY, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), IIT Bombay, etc to demonstrate the soft power of Taiwan.

The relationship between the two countries will further improve in the months to come.

Q. What are the major foreign policy challenges that Taiwan is faced with?

We have limited diplomatic allies, 22 to be precise. Taiwan doesn’t want to indulge in chequebook diplomacy with China, and this policy has been working quite well over the past years. Taiwan and China must respect each other’s international space and all efforts should be made to enhance the content of the diplomatic relationship.

Q. It’s been 3 years since you have been in India. Do you see a change after the Narendra Modi government came to power?

Modi ji has brought India to a different height. He is an energetic and forward looking leader of the world. Certainly, India’s recognition has elevated.

Several initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, Make in India, etc have encouraged big companies to move to India. For example, FOXCONN has tied up with Maharashtra government; Wistron has joined hands with Optiemus; Maxxis has set up factory in Gujarat. These are the latest investments from Taiwan to India. We can foresee that India is going to play an important role not only in the region, but also in the world.

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