Interaction with the Delegation from the Prospect Foundation
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) hosted a delegation from the Prospect Foundation, Taipei. The delegation was led by Amb. Tan Sun Chen and comprised of Ms Kristy Tsun Tsu Hsu, Dr Mumin Chen, Dr Alvin Yao and Ms Annie Chen. Amb. Anil Wadhwa delivered the opening remarks and presided over the session. Discussions were held on three themes: India’s Perspectives on the Indo-Pacific Strategy; India’s Foreign Policy outlook and its relations with major global players; and Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Act East Policy and Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy: Convergence and Cooperation’.

The issues of discussion are described below.

The Indo-Pacific Strategy

The Taiwanese delegation argued that owing to the increasing Chinese aggressive posture in the South China Sea, the concept of the Indo-Pacific was gaining momentum. At the time when the US was concentrating on dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue, China utilized the time to change the facts on the ground by constructing artificial islands in the South China Sea. China has changed the status quo by using the ‘inch by inch’ tactics. Now they are talking about the ‘new status quo’ which is not acceptable to the other countries in the region.
India has a huge responsibility in the Indo-Pacific region. Under the Act East policy, India has increased its engagement with the countries in the region. The Policy options for India in the region is to maintain it as a free open and inclusive region having a common rule-based system and connectivity that respects genuine sovereignty.

India’s Relations with the Major Powers

Under the Act East Policy, India is trying to build bilateral relations with the smaller countries and manage its relations with the major power. With Donald Trump coming to power, a new power competition has started. India is faced with an erratic US policy on the one side and an aggressive China on the other.

India has been cautious in handling the North Korea, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait issues. However, over last one year, the India-US relation have settled down. Last year, the US described India as a major defence partner. In the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), the US gave India a special place in Indo-Pacific. For India strengthening relations with the US are important and enjoy broad political support.

However, balanced relations with Russia and other major powers such as Japan and the European Union. The recently, signed S-400 deal with Russia is important for India, as it will help it to safeguard the northern border. India has stepped up its dialogue with China. The concept of strategic autonomy is still firmly embedded in India’s foreign policy doctrine.

India-Taiwan Relations

India-Taiwan relations are on an upward trajectory. The number of bilateral visits from both the sides have increased. There are around 1500 Indian degree-seeking students in Taiwan. The number of Indian students studying in Taiwan are much more than those studying in Japan or South Korea. The Taiwanese delegates raised the issue of India-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement and were interested in exploring other avenues for enhancing India-Taiwan economic engagement.

Points of Discussion:
  • It was felt by the participant that economic engagement with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) projects can be a plausible area of India-Taiwan cooperation. Taiwanese presence along the Bay of Bengal region can be a strategic opportunity for Taiwan.
  • In 1979, the US severed official ties with Taiwan. But the ties were kept alive by the US Congress. The Taiwan Regulation Act 1979, states that the US has the obligation to defend Taiwan. Based on the Act, every year there is a budgetary allocation for Taiwan. The present arms sales to Taiwan from the US should viewed in this light.
  • ‘China Made’ in 2025 could be in trouble. The blueprint of the policy states that China wants to become the leader in technology and the provincial governments should give subsidies to companies to achieve the target. It is unlikely the US will let China have access to the latest technology smoothly.
  • Since 1995, the series of agreements signed between India and Taiwan indicate that the relationship is no more under the radar. There is a need for Taiwan to diversify its economic engagement with India. Taiwan should invest more in chip Industry, solar panels, e-vehicles, IT, food processing, dual-use technology and in shipbuilding and infrastructure.
Event Date 
October 5, 2018

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