Boosting exchanges with India would be prioritized in the government’s New Southbound Policy, as the US is actively engaging India in its Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a Cabinet official said on Saturday.
The New Southbound Policy covers 18 nations: the 10 ASEAN members, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.
Among South and Southeast Asian countries, India is the only one that dares voice its opposition to China, and it is an important actor in the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy, which has prompted the Executive Yuan to pay more attention to the country in its regional and diplomatic work, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Many Indian graduates in the areas of science and technology have visited Taiwan for internships or work, with many engineers working in Taiwan’s science parks, the official said, adding that Taiwan and India could further advance talent exchanges in related areas.
However, bilateral interactions this year have been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the outbreak in India remains severe, the official said.
This year’s planned exhibition on Taiwan-India exchanges under the New Southbound Policy has been transformed into a virtual event and delayed until Dec. 16 to 18, the official added.
India-China relations have been tense since soldiers from the two sides clashed along the Line of Actual Control in May.
Repeated attempts by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi to intervene with the Indian media, including a demand that they respect Beijing’s “one China principle” when covering Taiwan’s Double Ten National Day celebrations, have backfired.
Taiwan-India ties are promising, said Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), who manages the New Southbound Policy, when asked about an upsurge of anti-China and pro-Taiwan sentiment in India.
Asked about the Cabinet official’s remark that India ties would be prioritized, Deng said that every country covered by the policy is important and that Taiwan-India relations have greatly improved over the past few years.
Citing an example, Deng said that Taiwan in 2018 renewed a bilateral trade agreement with India following only a year of negotiations.
It shows that New Delhi attaches great importance to Taiwan’s investment environment, as it tends to conduct longer negotiations with other countries before signing an investment agreement, he said.
Taiwan has attracted many high-tech professionals from India, while some Taiwanese tech giants have invested in India, he said.
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