SOURCE: INDIA TODAY
The Foreign Minister of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Joseph Wu, spoke to Geeta Mohan, Foreign Affairs Editor, India Today TV, on a wide range of issues, including Chinese authoritarianism, the need to create alternative supply chains to move away from hostile nations, and pitched for intelligence sharing with India. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Q. It has been a difficult but an interesting year with the world looking at Taiwan and waking up to what Taipei faces. Now, on your National Day, China tried to bully countries not to celebrate, bully Indian media not to cover, but we didn’t stop.
Ans. This is a situation that we’ve been facing for decades, but in the last few years, the situation is becoming more serious than ever. The Chinese are using their economic clout and also their political power to pressure other countries to do otherwise things that will be very normal for other countries. And in this particular case that you mentioned, the Chinese seem to be threatening the Indian press not to report about Taiwan’s National Day, but India to us is a big democracy, perhaps the biggest democracy in the whole world, with a vibrant press and freedom-loving people.
Pressing Indians or the Indian press not to report about Taiwan’s National Day is against our value and we are very happy to see that the Indian press and the Indian friends disregarded the Chinese pressure and celebrated our National Day with us. The fact is that Taiwan is a democracy and shares the same value as Indians and we are very glad that the Indians are celebrating our national day with us.
Q. What are your expectations from the Indian government in fully recognising Taiwan not just as a partner but also a nation?
Ans. Thank you very much for raising that question. To us, it is very important to improve relations with India. It is a country that shares the same values with Taiwan and it is also a country that has a very rich, traditional culture and it is also a country that is so rich with its potential.
So, for Taiwan to develop closer ties with India is very important and we have the ambition to improve our relations with India.
In areas such as the economy or economic relations, we certainly hope that Taiwanese investment can go further in making an investment in India. So far, we have 2.3 billion US dollars’ investment in India that employs about 65,000 people in India and it is rapidly rising right now and we certainly hope that the trend can continue.
Another area that we think it is very important for us to think about right now is the supply chain. Taiwan and India are mutually complementary for each other. And for Taiwan and India to think along the line of supply chain is going to be very important for Taiwan and I’m sure it’s going to be in the interest of your country as well.
Other areas such as health cooperation are also very important. During this whole period of Covid-19, we realised that relying on one certain country for medical supply is a national security problem. If we need to overcome that problem, then like-minded countries need to work closer with each other.
Supply chain in the hands of friends or allies is in line with national security. So, we would like to work together with India as well. More importantly, for Taiwan and India to work on international stage can also be very important. We have been excluded from many international fora, but Taiwan has full potential in making contributions in international society.
We certainly hope that Taiwan and India can work further with each other so that we together can make contributions to international society and we certainly hope that the Indian government can look at Taiwan with more seriousness and the two sides can work further with each other.
Q. India and Taiwan have both been at the receiving end of Chinese aggression. How should the world come together to stop such illegal claims?
Ans. I think this is a very important issue for us to deal with. If you look at the situation in this part of the world, Taiwan is not the only country that is facing problems in this regard. Look at East China Sea. I’m sure Japan also has plenty of problems in dealing with China. The disputed water is being intruded repeatedly in the last few months and in the South China Sea, I’m sure the countries surrounding South China Sea have also seen the same problem and we also noticed the dispute along the India-China border.
Therefore, you can see that we are facing the same issue and that issue is the expansionism of authoritarian Chinese Communist Party. We have to think about the way for democracies, for like-minded countries to work further together. We have traditional, good relations with the United States, with Japan and we want to develop closer ties with India as well.
In order for Taiwan and India to work with each other in that regard, I think we need to start by thinking on how to exchange views or intelligence with each other on the situation that we face and try to explore the possible areas of cooperation.
We in Taiwan have the full intention of working together with India, even though this is not a military alliance type of relationship, but I think for like-minded countries to work together in exchanging views which each other, to understand each other, is going to be very important and it’s important for Taiwan and I’m sure it’s going to be important for India as well.
Q. Is it time that the UN recognises Taiwan to settle matters once and for all? Although a veto-yielding China would never allow that.
Ans. I would say that it is time for the international community and the international organisations to consider seriously the existence of Taiwan and to think seriously and how to incorporate Taiwan into the international organisations.
Anyone who has any experience with Taiwan… we have 23 million people even though it’s much smaller than India, but at least it is a mid-sized country. Taiwan is a democracy. We have a democratic government that is publicly and democratically elected by the people here in Taiwan and we also have a vibrant press, freedom of speech is observed by the government.
And, therefore, for the international community to understand that Taiwan is in existence outside China is going to be very important. Many countries believe that there is a “One China policy” and that China represents Taiwan but that is not true.
Historically, beginning from 1949, Taiwan has not been any part of China and that is beginning from the day that the People’s Republic of China was established. The two sides are separate.
And, therefore, China cannot represent Taiwan internationally and only the democratically elected government in Taiwan can lawfully represent the Taiwanese people. Taiwanese people have the same right as the right of any other country to be represented in international organisations, in the UN or UN-affiliated organisations.
We are not just trying to pursue our participation in international organisations such as the UN or the WHO, what we want to do is to be able to make contributions to international society. We have been working together with some other democratic countries in making Taiwan’s contribution and we are a country that is well experienced in dealing with public health issues and therefore during the pandemic we have been providing assistance to many other countries in terms of relief material or other type of assistance.
We even held video conferences with some Indian hospitals, working together with them to build up the safeguard to combat Covid-19. Therefore, for Taiwan to be able to participate in international organisations such as the WHO, is not only working in the benefit of Taiwan people, but also working in the benefit for other countries.
Excluding Taiwan is not in the interests of Taiwan and it’s not in the interests of international society. Taiwan is being threatened by China for years and Taiwan happens to be on the front line of the Chinese expansionism. Taiwan is a democracy and we want to fight for our existence and we want to prevail so that democracy around the world can prevail.
Q. China calls Taiwan a “redline” and Taiwan’s independence as “wishful thinking”. Your response.
Ans. Well Taiwan, as I say, is in existence outside China. China does not have any jurisdiction over Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China has not for a single day set foot in Taiwan to run Taiwan.
Therefore, for the Chinese government to say that other countries should not have any relations with Taiwan is simply wrong. The Chinese have the ambition of incorporating Taiwan. They have stated it publicly and repeatedly
They want to take over Taiwan peacefully if possible and use force if necessary. That is the kind of attitude which is against the charter of the UN.
I think the international community needs to look at this more seriously and in order to be able to safeguard itself, we need more international community members to work together with Taiwan
We want to be working with India so that Taiwan-Indian relations can be stronger, to make sure that the Chinese don’t resort to the use of force against Taiwan.
For the Chinese to declare that this is a red line, that certain governments cannot have any kind of relations with Taiwan, is simply wrong.
We do business with India, we do business with the United States, with Japan, etc. That business has been doing very well, working in the mutual benefit of our relations with other countries.
Based on that, I think we need to have more relations with other countries and other countries need to have more relations with Taiwan and that is working in the interests of the international community as a whole.
Q. Is it time to work together to create alternate supply chains and reduce dependence on China for a stable global economy? Is Supply Chain Resilience an important key?
Ans. I think this is a very important issue and the international community comes to realisation that the supply chain is a very serious matter to look at.
If a critical part of the supply chain is in the hands of a country that has ambition to dominate the international community, that might not be in our national interests and I think the same situation can apply to many other countries. We are having discussions with other countries on this issue.
Taiwan is an international hub for semiconductors and for other ICG manufacturing; and India is also a country that is big and getting bigger in software and hardware production.
Therefore, for Taiwan and India and other… countries to discuss with each other so that our supply chain can be in line with each other can be in our mutual interests.
International supply chain needs to be realigned so that we understand that the supply chain is not in the hands of a hostile country.
After the trade war, and the pandemic and the flooding in China a while ago, there are many more Taiwanese who want to migrate out of China. Some of them are coming back to Taiwan, reinvesting here for with about 35 billion US dollars in the last year alone. Many are thinking about migrating to other countries also and India happens to be one very prominent area.
I need to commend the Indian government on some very courageous moves to ban some of the software, especially those software on cell phones.
In the short term, it can be painful. But in the long run, I think it’s in your national interest and in order for this kind of software to be in the hands of partners that are in line with each other. I think we can discuss with each other on how we can cooperate so that it works in the benefit of India and Taiwan.
Q. Militarily, how can Taiwan contain Chinese aggression in the South China Sea?
Ans. South China Sea is one area that we have been looking at very seriously as well. People are saying that Taiwan Strait is the potential flashpoint and we agree with that. The Chinese are threatening us day in and day out with their military hardware.
Another area that I would describe as a potential flashpoint is the South China Sea. The Chinese military vessels and also their military airplanes have been patrolling around the disputed waters undertaking bases as well.
They have been expanding their sphere of influence in the South China Sea and that puts other countries around and in the South China Sea, including Vietnam the Philippines and Indonesia and also Malaysia, in a difficult position. For the international community as well, especially those countries surrounding the South China Sea.
What we need to look at is that all disputes need to be resolved peacefully through international law, especially the UN Convention on the Law Of the Seas (UNCLOS) and that happens to be our position as well.
Since we also claim parts of the South China Sea, it is very important for Taiwan to be taken in as part of that multilateral mechanism in dealing with the territorial dispute resolution. For the international community, it is very important for the members in the region to uphold the rights of other flight and freedom of navigation.
Taiwan will work with the international community to make sure that international laws are observed in the South China Sea.
Q. How important is it for groupings like QUAD to become a military success? Would Taiwan consider to be a part of an expanded Quad?
Ans. I think Quad is very important. We are watching very closely the development of this quadrilateral cooperation.
Just a few days ago, the foreign ministers of Quad met in Tokyo and they worked with each other on how to intensify cooperation.
China is not the only issue that all these four countries are discussing about. There are so many international issues that the Quad can come together in working with each other for the security issues and other issues.
We are very happy to see that the like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific are working with each other to deal with the common threat in this region.
Taiwan has been watching very carefully. We have traditional, very good relations with the United States and Japan and we also enjoy good relations with Australia. Our relations with India are getting better and better and therefore we certainly hope that Taiwan can start thinking about how we can work with all of the Quad nations.
It might still be very difficult for Taiwan to take part in the Quad plus discussions in a formal way, but we have taken part in the Quad plus in a think tank forum and trade forum before. We think this is going to be very useful for Taiwan. We certainly would like to make contributions to this formulation of looking at the problems or issues in this area.
After the United States’ strategy of free and open Indo-Pacific, we have been working together with the United States in a very close way.
The United States describes Taiwan as a democratic success story, a reliable partner and of course for good in the world.
We’ve been working together with the United States to make sure that the region can benefit from Taiwan’s contribution and Taiwan will be very happy not only to work together with the United States, but also with other members of the Indo-Pacific community, to make sure that the area can benefit from Taiwan’s assistance or benefit from Taiwan’s willingness to make contributions.
Taiwan is a model of democracy and we can share the values with other countries that are still living under authoritarianism and we are very willing to make contributions in the area of security and it’s not only the hard security but also the now traditional security areas. We are very good in it and we are willing to make contributions.
Taiwan is also a very prosperous country and we want to make contributions to this part of the world so that the whole Indo-Pacific can benefit from Taiwan’s economic engagement.