Tue, May 20, 2014 - Page 3 News List

The nation must deepen ties with India: ex-envoy

Staff writer, with CNA, New Delhi

A former envoy to India has suggested deepening ties with New Delhi to capitalize on the nation’s existing friendship with India’s incoming ruling party, which swept to a landslide victory in general elections over the weekend.

Taiwan and India should work to beef up the intensity and depth of their relations now that the groundwork for exchanges has been laid, Ong Wen-chyi (翁文琪) told the Central News Agency in a recent interview.

Ong, who was the nation’s representative to India from 2008 to 2012 and now serves as chairman of Chunghwa Post, made his appeal after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to victory in India’s parliamentary election on Sunday.

The victory will usher in a new government led by prime minister-elect Narendra Modi.

In urging the government to take action, Ong criticized it for not showing sufficient commitment to closer bilateral ties, in contrast to India, which has shown considerable interest in cooperation.

“Compared with India, how much effort has Taiwan made [on cooperation]?” Ong asked, citing frequent visits to Taiwan by officials from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Given the recent anti-China riots in Vietnam, “perhaps we should consider whether India should play a greater role [in the nation’s economy],” said Ong, who helped the state of Gujarat, governed by Modi since 2001, solicit investment from Taiwan-based China Steel Corp.

The nation’s ties with the BJP date back almost seven years ago when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), then a presidential candidate, visited BJP President Rajnath Singh in June 2007. Singh called the meeting with Ma historic.

Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Hsia (夏立言), Ong’s predecessor as representative to India, met with Modi at an international meeting on the shipping industry in Gujarat in September 2007.

During their meeting, Modi lauded the nation’s expertise in hardware and said that with India’s strength in software, the two sides should cooperate closely like “body and soul.”

Modi visited Taiwan in November 1999 when he was a general-secretary of his party.

Economic cooperation with India has warmed up in recent years, with the two signing an agreement to avoid double taxation in 2001 and another for mutual assistance in customs matters in July 2011.

In March last year, the two nations signed an agreement allowing temporary duty-free admission of products and equipment, usually for exhibition purposes, to boost trade and business exchanges.

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