Interaction with a Taiwanese Delegation
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Dr. Lai Yi-chung, Deputy Director of Taiwan Think Tank and leading strategist of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), accompanied by Dr. Mumin Chen, Director, Center for Strategic Studies on South Asia and Middle East, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, visited the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) on 4 May 2016 for an interaction on India-Taiwan relations, Taiwan’s new Southbound Policy and related issues.

The interaction started with a welcome address by Gen. N.C.Vij, Director VIF and was followed by two presentations, one each by Dr. Mumin Chen and Mr. Lai Yi-chung. Dr. Chen made an elaborate presentation on “India–Taiwan relations”. He pointed out that there were regular contacts between India and Taiwan even before the two countries established their de facto diplomatic missions in 1995. Post-1995, there were many bilateral agreements between India and Taiwan but none at the government-to-government level. Although, there have been several high level diplomatic exchanges between India and Taiwan and the President-elect Tsai Ing-wen visited India way back in 2012, the trajectory in bilateral relations presumably still has not reached the desired level. India, presently, is graded as the 19th largest trade partner of Taiwan. Given the scope of relations, there is a need for far greater cooperation, especially in the academic and cultural areas, many participants in the discussion felt.

In the second presentation, Mr. Lai Yi-chung made a broad assessment of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, a policy priority for the President-elect as enunciated in her victory speech in January 2016. The said policy puts emphasis on greater engagement with countries in Southeast Asia, including India. Until now, there have been already two waves of Taiwan’s southbound policy, 1993-1998 (first wave) and 2003-2008 (second wave), while a third wave will unfold after the President-elect assumes office on 20 May 2016. The Southbound policy per se was started as a part of Taiwan’s overall hedging strategy so that it could diversify its trade with dynamic economies of Southeast Asia and India rather than being solely China-centric.

Despite the fact that bilateral relations between India and Taiwan kicked off in 1995, the momentum picked up only during the second wave when the DPP was in power. Under the KMT, led by Ma Ying Jeou, the emphasis was given only on the economic aspect of the relationship. However, it is
expected that under the third wave of Southbound policy Taiwan will pursue a more broad-based policy towards India as the emphasis will be on cultural, social, educational and other linkages that exist between the two nations. The speaker hoped that there would be more engagements and participation by both nations at multilateral and bilateral forums as part of the policy.

The presentations were followed by an incisive Q&A session. A point was made by Amb TCA Rangachari that rather than just depending on national/central universities for the teaching of Chinese language, a few Taiwanese private entrepreneurs should also come forward to establish Mandarin training centers in India.

Lt. Gen Ravi Sawhney however added that the teaching of mandarin should be accompanied with managerial courses as well. Multiple issues like the 1992 consensus, Taiwanese position in the South China Sea, Taiwan’s stand on the global terrorist threat ISIS, among others, were discussed in tandem. Overall, the interaction stressed on greater cooperation at the people-to-people level as part of a policy to strengthen bilateral relations between India and Taiwan. Gen N.C Vij concluded the discussion by thanking the delegation and welcoming them once again.

Event Date 
May 4, 2016
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