Defence

What role for Taiwan in Act East 2.0?

On 11 January, Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected as president of Taiwan in a landslide victory, with a continued legislative majority for her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Tsai and the DPP are expected to further promote policies that decrease Taipei’s dependence on Beijing, and diversify its trade and investment partners. Is there then an opportunity for Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP) to deepen its engagement with India’s Act East Policy (AEP)?

Taiwan’s export-oriented economy and interest in diversifying traditional targets of investment under the NSP make it a natural collaborator for India. However, any such collaboration will have to take into account sensitivities linked to the India-China relationship, and India’s adherence to the ‘One-China’ policy.

Convergences

President Tsai launched the NSP in August 2016 to mark the third phase of the 1994 Go South Policy. It aims to reinvigorate and expand Taipei’s ties with South and Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; diversify trade; and move away from China.

While India was not central to the first two phases of Taipei’s Go South Policy, it has now become an integral part of Tsai’s NSP. According to Taiwan’s representative to India Chung Kwang Tien, India is “not one of” but rather “the most” important country for this policy’s implementation.

India’s AEP – announced in 2014 – is an upgraded version of its Look East Policy, with the objective to promote economic cooperation and

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