Taiwan, India stand on frontline of authoritarian expansion, says Taipei envoy.

China’s current preoccupation with the Taiwan Strait doesn’t mean it will diminish its attention to the Indian Ocean, and both Taiwan and India stand on the frontline of authoritarian expansion, Taipei’s de-facto ambassador Baushuan Ger said on Thursday.

Other free and law-biding countries will suffer in the long-term if China’s wanton disregard for democratic principles and blatant violation of international law go unheeded, Ger said in an exclusive interview.

How do Taiwan and its people view US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei and her pledge of American solidarity with Taiwan and her comments on the need to preserve democracy?

Speaker Pelosi’s visit marks the first visit by a US House Speaker in 25 years since Speaker Newt Gingrich went to Taiwan in 1997. This not only underlines the high level of support for Taiwan-US relations from the US Congress but once again reaffirms the rock-solid US commitments to Taiwan.

This historic visit by Speaker Pelosi has been met with overwhelming support and appreciation on the part of Taiwan and its people as it is instrumental in showcasing to the world that Taiwan is a bona fide partner in the global community of democracies. In addition, the visit is important in the sense that it helps restores much-needed confidence to Taiwan as it works hard to expand and deepen its engagement with other like-minded countries like the US and to defend its sovereignty and democratic way of life.

Speaker Pelosi rightly pointed out during her visit in Taiwan, “The world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. American’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.”

As the slogan of the Washington Post has it, “democracy dies in darkness”. To be sure, it is only in broad daylight where democracy thrives and flourishes. Given China’s relentless economic coercion and military intimidation against Taiwan, if China’s wanton disregard for democratic principles and blatant violation of international law go unheeded or if fellow democratic countries choose to keep silent, it is not only Taiwan that will suffer but also other free and law-biding countries in the long term.

Some commentators may reckon that China’s preoccupation with the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea would diminish its attention to the Indian Ocean and presumably India could rest assured about holding the momentary peace with China. I beg to differ. Think of 2020, when the Galwan Valley clash on the Indo-China border broke out. It was certainly not a time when China was any more or less preoccupied with its eastern flank.

Indeed, as Taiwan and India both stand on the frontline of authoritarian expansion, cooperation amongst democratic and like-minded countries is crucial more than ever to ensure our shared prosperity and collective security and to defend ourselves jointly against economic and military coercion by authoritarian states.

China has announced a range of actions, from unprecedented exercises within Taiwan’s 12-nautical mile air and sea territory to import restrictions, in response to Pelosi’s visit. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, worries have increased about similar actions in Asia. How do you view these developments?

China’s reactions have been unwarranted given that there have been regular congressional and parliamentary visits between Taiwan and the US, Japan, the European Union and other like-minded countries. China’s provocative actions have seriously undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and posed a challenge to international trade and rules-based global order.

As noted in the statement issued by G7 foreign ministers and the EU High Representative on August 3, “there is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from (G7’s and EU’s) countries to travel internationally. The PRC’s escalatory response risks increasing tension and destabilising the region.”

In the face of global disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have learned too well that despite geographical distance, our lives are interconnected, and that we all have a stake in the stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

The strategic value of Taiwan lies not only in its geographical location on the front line of advancing authoritarianism, thus a springboard for China to further project its military ambition in the region, but also the fact that the global economy depends on Taiwanese firms for over 90% of leading-edge semiconductor production.

It has been heartening to see that the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is now shared by the international community.

Beijing’s actions appear to be aimed at rolling back US-Taiwan relations, and there has been a significant increase in Chinese military activity around Taiwan in the past few years. What is Taiwan doing to defend itself in response to these measures?

It is important to note that the Republic of China (Taiwan) is an independent sovereign country. The fact that neither the Republic of China (Taiwan) nor the People’s Republic of China is subordinate to the other is a piece of fact and long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

In the face of China’s persistent hybrid threats, the government of Taiwan will continue to enhance its self-defence capabilities while maintaining close communication and coordination with the US and other like-minded nations to jointly preserve the rules-based international order and safeguard security across the Taiwan Strait and ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

What are Taiwan’s expectations from the world community, especially in terms of its participation in meetings at the UN and other international forums, especially WHO and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where it can make meaningful contributions?

It has long been our government’s consistent position to gain pragmatic, professional and constructive participation in UN specialised agencies and mechanisms and other international organisations crucial to the welfare of the people of Taiwan and the nation’s development, while upholding our national sovereignty and dignity, and ensuring the welfare of the people.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance and urgency in including Taiwan in the global public health mechanism. Taiwan has adopted the “Taiwan Model” and successfully prevented and contained the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This approach shows to the world that democracy can work inclusively and transparently to combat the pandemic with smart technology while respecting democratic values.

How would you characterise the current state of India-Taiwan relations, including in trade and technology cooperation? Are there specific plans to boost cooperation in areas where Taiwan has crucial expertise, such as semiconductors and hi-tech?

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan-India trade reached $7.7 billion in 2021, which is 64% higher than the year before. Our bilateral relations are anchored by a mutual commitment to a free and open market economy and the rule of law and guided by a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

On the investment front, Taiwan has supported a significant amount of job creation in India and continues to play a major role in the industrialisation and digitalisation goals in the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (Self-Reliant India) campaign. Given Taiwan’s prowess in hardware production and India’s expertise in software design, our bilateral trade relations are complimentary in nature,

In view of the new momentum in Taiwan-India economic relations in the post-pandemic era, it is imperative that both sides conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) and an upgraded bilateral investment agreement (BIA) at the earliest possible in order to reinvigorate two-way trade and investment.

As India plans to take full advantage of the rise of IoT (Internet of Things) and advanced technology in the Indo-Pacific supply chain, Taiwan remains an ideal and trusted partner, not only because our semiconductor technology can serve as a strong backbone but, most importantly, our shared conviction in democracy, transparency and the rule of law. By drawing on the strength of its hi-tech sector, Taiwan is willing and ready to partner with India in creating a resilient and sustainable global supply chain going forward.

Source- Hindustan Times.
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