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Envoy sees policy congruence between Taiwan, Australia

2018/04/21 10:37:32

Photo courtesy of the Australian Office in Taipei

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Gary Cowan, head of the Australian Office in Taipei, said Taiwan and Australia share common interests in many areas and in the coming years could work more closely together.

"I think there is quite a lot of policy congruence because as Taiwan is looking south, Australia is looking north," Cowan told CNA in an exclusive interview on April 13.

Australia is pleased to be on Taiwan's radar with its New Southbound Policy, Cowan said, referring to the government policy launched in mid-2016 to reduce Taiwan's dependence on China and increase cooperation with Southeast Asian and South Asian countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

The policy mirrors Australia's own development strategy as its Foreign Policy White Paper published in late 2017 identifies the Indo-Pacific area as a key region for the country's interests over the next decade, said Cowan, who took up his post about three months ago.

Taiwan is in a critical location in that region, which Australia would like to see grow on the basis of rules and principles and engage more comprehensively with Taiwan and other countries such as the United States, China and ASEAN, according to Cowan.

There is a lot of common ground between the vision of both Australia's white paper and Taiwan's southbound policy, he said, suggesting that both sides could cooperate in such fields as education, agriculture and investment projects.

The area of renewable energy also provides great potential for bilateral partnership as Taiwan strives to become nuclear-free by 2025, Cowan said.

While Australian company Macquarie Capital is vying for an offshore wind power project in central Taiwan's Changhua, Taiwan's state-run petroleum company CPC Corporation will import 4 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year on a long term contract with Australia starting this year, he said.

Cowan said he hopes to foster stronger ties between Taiwan and Australia during his tenure, and that "I want Taiwanese people to think of Australia" when it comes to various areas, including research, working holidays and smart city collaboration.

Although he is new to Taiwan, Cowan said he has already fallen in love with the country's mountains, gourmet food and people. He even adopted a Taiwanese dog named "Lola." (To hear more about some of his experiences in Taiwan, please watch the video.)

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)