New policy seeks integration with SE Asia: adviser

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Oct 07, 2017 - Page 3

Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy is the government’s “regional strategy for Asia,” as the nation used to identify only with Northeast Asia, but now wants to integrate more deeply with the South and Southeast Asia regions, presidential adviser Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌) said on Tuesday.

Hsiao said that the Yushan Forum, a major initiative of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration aimed at establishing the nation’s role in the changing regional dynamics by creating an institutionalized multilateral dialogue on cooperation, would be launched on Wednesday next week.

“We [Taiwan] actually play no role in Asia,” said Hsiao, who is considered a pioneer in Southeast Asian studies.

That is partly because Taiwanese society has long identified itself with Northeast Asia and has lost sight of South and Southeast Asian countries, Hsiao said.

“With the New Southbound Policy in place, we are trying to reassert our role,” he added.

Taiwan’s new approach to forging ties with countries covered in the New Southbound Policy is different from that of China, which has been characterized as a new form of “economic colonialism,” Hsiao said.

Meanwhile, environmental pollution associated with Taiwanese investment abroad — such as an environmental disaster attributed to Formosa Plastics Corp’s steel mill in Ha Tinh, Vietnam — and problems facing immigrant workers in Taiwan — most recently the shooting death of a Vietnamese worker by a Taiwanese police officer — would be addressed by the policy, Hsiao added.

Policy points, such as economic and trade issues, human resources, technological innovation, non-governmental organization engagement, think tank cooperation and youth dialogue are to be discussed at the forum and will help Taiwan redefine its role and image in the region, he said.

The lineup of forum speakers has not been released in consideration of the possibility that China could try to sabotage the event by discouraging foreign speakers to attend, event host Prospect Foundation said.

According to the organizer, the forum is to feature 40 speakers from 15 countries in South and Southeast Asia, as well as from Japan, South Korea, the US and Europe.