‘MISUNDERSTANDING’:The New Southbound Policy Office head said that the policy would not clash with cross-strait trade and could even be complementary
Date: May 18, 2016
By: Staff writer, with CNA
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳), who has been named as the head of
the New Southbound Policy Office, yesterday said that if Taiwan does not quickly expand its influence in Southeast Asia, it is likely to lose its edge in the region.
“Taiwan’s new southbound policy is getting a late start compared with other countries in the world,” Huang said, adding that the US, Japan, Australia, South Korea and China have been active in the region for many years.
“If Taiwan does not catch up quickly, the nation’s industry and economic advantages in ASEAN would gradually erode. This is the crux of the new southbound policy,” he said.
Speaking at a forum on the new southbound policy, Huang described the central tenet of the initiative as turning ASEAN into an extension of Taiwan’s domestic market.
If Taiwan still has an edge anywhere in the world, it would be in ASEAN, he said, adding that the edge might only last for five more years as the region makes rapid progress.
“If Taiwan does not seize the opportunities in the next five years, it is likely to be left with no advantage at all,” he said.
Taiwan first promoted a “go south” policy in the 1990s that tried to encourage companies to shift investment to Southeast Asia rather than heading to China in the hope of leveraging Taiwan’s economic might into political clout.
However, the policy gradually lost steam during the latter years of then-president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) administration, especially after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. [FULL STORY]