China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative would not effect the government’s “new southbound policy” as the two have different strategies and aims, Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) said on Saturday.
Deng, who supervises the implementation of the policy, said Taiwan aims at comprehensive interaction with Southeast Asian nations, while China’s “One Belt, One Road” project aims to improve infrastructure in the nations targeted by the initiative.
Asked if China’s influence in Central Asia and Indochina would make Taiwan’s promotion of the policy difficult, especially after Panama cut ties with Taiwan on Tuesday, Deng said: “They [Beijing] do their part, and we do ours. Both sides have their respective strategies and targets.”
China is working to build public infrastructure like railways and highways in Central Asia, while in Indochina, it aims to build highways, which differs from the aims of the southbound policy, he said.
Taiwan aims to promote tourism, education, medicine, technology, small and medium-enterprises and agriculture in the 18 nations targeted by the policy — the 10 ASEAN members, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, New Zealand and Australia — he said.
The Ministry of Education has approved plans for public and private universities to recruit students from Southeast Asian nations and India, he said.
Students from the target nations can enroll in Taiwan’s four-year universities or two-year colleges and find internship in factories, he said, adding that 5,000 students per academic year would be accepted.
The program is to combine study and work opportunities, which could boost the development of Taiwanese businesses, he said.
The nation’s hospitals are also looking for medical interns from Southeast Asian nations, who would benefit from the progress of Taiwan’s medical industry, he added.
The nation’s agricultural techniques could help improve farmers’ lives in Southeast Asia, while domestic stock of seeds and fertilizers could find broader overseas markets, he added.
As for bilateral agreements on the promotion and protection of investments, Taiwan is still discussing the details with India, the Philippines and Vietnam, he said, adding that negotiations take time.
Deng said the policy involves recruiting talent and collaborating on medicine and healthcare, with five major plans that include the development of industrial chains, promotion of business innovation and regional agriculture, policy discussion forums and a youth interaction platform.
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