By Aroonim Bhuyan
Taipei, Feb 23 (IANS) China is trying to block Taiwan from diversifying its foreign direct investments, including to India, because Beijing wants the East Asian island nation’s investments to be restricted to mainland China, a Taiwanese minister has said.
The self-ruled island nation is seeking to diversify its investments under a new foreign policy billed as “New Southbound Policy” that seeks to engage more closely with 18 Asia-Pacific countries, including India.
“Beijing will try to block our New Southbound Policy only because they will like to see Taiwanese investments to go to mainland China and not to diversify our outgoing investments,” Taiwan’s First Deputy Minister for Mainland Affairs Council Cheng-yi Lin said in response to a question by IANS during an interaction with a group of journalists here on Wednesday.
“Our relationship with mainland China and our New Southbound Policy are equally important for Taiwan and we are not competing with the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” Lin stated.
The 18 countries with which Taiwan seeks to have closer investment ties include India and five other South Asian nations, the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), and Australia and New Zealand.
The policy was adopted after President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) assumed power in 2016.
According to the guidelines of the new policy, it “is a crucial part of Taiwan’s economic and trade strategy”.
“As an important member of both Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan must respond to changing global conditions and the trend toward regional integration by making appropriate adjustments,” the guidelines state.
“The New Southbound Policy has been adopted in order to identify a new direction and a new driving force for a new stage of Taiwan’s economic development, and to create future value.”
“We can offer another dimension of the story to the Taiwan economic development, also Taiwan contributing to the region,” Minister Lin said.
The island nation is the world’s 22nd-largest economy and was dubbed one of the four Asian tigers in the late 20th century, the others being Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.
Lin’s comments come in the wake of a visit to India of a Taiwanese delegation that included three women parliamentarians earlier this month resulting in a sharp reaction from Beijing.
During the course of the visit, China lodged a protest and asked India to honour its commitment to the “One China policy”.
Beijing also said that New Delhi should be cautious in dealing with Taiwan.
New Delhi responded saying that no political meaning should be read into the Taiwanese delegation’s visit.
“Such (Taiwanese) informal groups have visited India in the past as well for business, religious and tourist purposes,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said following Beijing’s remarks.
“I understand that they do so to China as well. There is nothing new or unusual about such visits and political meanings should not be read into them.”
In his interaction with the media on Wednesday, Lin said that mainland China has been benefiting from Taiwan’s investments since 1990.
“Any other country in the region too should have the opportunity to have Taiwanese investments,” he said. “For example, India.”
Lin said that compared to other countries in Southeast Asia like Vietnam, Malaysia or Indonesia, Taiwanese investments in India have been “very low”.
(Aroonim Bhuyan is visiting Taiwan at the invitation of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He can be contacted at [email protected])