Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on Friday began a weeklong private visit to India, a country which she described as having an ancient civilization “worth visiting to understand better.”
There is considerable opportunity for future interaction between Taiwan and India in the area of “soft power,” Lu said at Delhi International Airport upon her arrival on Friday night.
“In recent years, there has been a breakthrough in Taiwan-India relations. It’s a good thing,” she said, without elaborating.
According to Taiwan’s representative office in India, trade relations with India have grown steadily in recent years, with two-way trade surging to US$7.5 billion last year from US$6.4 billion in 2010 and US$4.1 billion in 2009.
Taiwan’s largest integrated steelmaker, China Steel Corp, decided last week to invest US$178 million in an electrical steel plant in Gujarat’s Bharuch District. The new project will bring Taiwan’s total investment in India to more than US$1.2 billion, the office said.
Lu, accompanied by friends and a close aide, flew to New Delhi on Friday. Asked by the press whether she would meet the Dalai Lama during her stay, she said she would love to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader, whom she described as an old friend.
She added, however, that she was afraid that it would be inappropriate to arrange a meeting at the last moment.
The Dalai Lama is in Delhi for a regular eye checkup.
Asked about the defeat of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Jan. 14 presidential election, Lu said she hoped the party would organize a series of discussions after the Lunar New Year holiday to review why it lost.
“Party members should open their hearts to discuss what had caused the defeat,” Lu said.
Lu will travel to Utta Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi before returning to Taiwan on Saturday.