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Tsai calls for Taiwan to speed up efforts to strengthen India ties

2012/09/20 20:10:39

New Delhi, Sept. 20 (CNA) Tsai Ing-wen, former chairwoman of Taiwan's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Thursday that the country should speed up efforts to strengthen ties with India, where she is visiting for the first time.

Arriving in New Delhi a day earlier, Tsai said despite both sides' willingness to build stronger ties, "the deepening (of bilateral ties) is not proceeding fast enough."

"We're hoping to find out why and how we can accelerate collaboration," she told CNA at the airport.

Tsai, who was the DPP's candidate in the January presidential election, said she saw India's future role on the world stage from a regional perspective.

India is a big country and will play a very key role in Asia, she said, adding: "We, as part of Asia, cannot ignore India. This a place full of possibilities. We need to discover these possibilities attentively."

Tsai, who did not get a visa to visit India last year as the DPP candidate, noted that she was not visiting the country on behalf of the DPP but rather her own office.

Asked if India "marks the first stop of her trip to re-learn about Asia" and whether she is interested in knowing more about and visiting China, Tsai said: "Currently I don't plan to, but let's see."

Southeast Asian nations have actually performed pretty well economically in recent years and they have become more important players in the region, she said.

"So we should in fact know more about the region, whether it's India, every nation in Southeast Asia, or China," she said.

In addition, she said, "we should observe our competitors," for example, South Korea, with which "we can have exchanges in many aspects."

A possible DPP presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Tsai's itinerary on her trip to India is similar to the one made by President Ma Ying-jeou, who visited in 2007 as the presidential candidate of the ruling Kuomintang.

Tsai is scheduled to visit the Indian Council of World Affairs, a New Delhi-based think tank, and give a speech on Taiwan-China relations later in the day. Ma also addressed the council, and talked about Taiwan-India relations.

Ma met with senior Indian national security and foreign affairs officials five years ago. Tsai has similar meetings arranged with local officials.

Her itinerary in New Delhi also includes interviews by foreign media, a closed-door meeting with officials from the Vivekananda International Foundation -- a think tank based in the Indian capital, a meeting with members of India's parliament, and dinner with representatives of the Taiwanese business community.

Jabin T. Jacob, assistant director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, described a day earlier Tsai's visit as the government's gesture to deepen ties with Taiwan.

Tsai's trip to India has significant meaning in terms of bilateral interaction between the two countries, Jacob said.

Jacob's institute helped organize Tsai's upcoming speech, which is highly anticipated since it will mark the first time a DPP heavyweight has publicly spoken about the party's new China policies.

Any Taiwan-India cooperation usually alarms China, no matter whether such cooperation concerns technology or national defense, Jacob said.

The China policy of the pro-independence DPP therefore make the Indian government nervous, which is why there have not been many visits by senior DPP officials to the country in the past, he added.

Tsai, as an important political figure in Taiwan and a possible future president, is certainly a person from whom India wants to understand the DPP's stance on China issues, he said.

Madhav Das Nalapat, a geopolitical professor at Manipal University, said Tsai should better understand India, an emerging nation, since she already has much knowledge about the United States, Europe and Japan.

Following her stay in New Delhi, Tsai is expected to fly to Mumbai Sept. 23 before returning to Taiwan Sept. 28.

(By Ho Horn-ru and Kendra Lin)