Sunday, September 9, 2018

Under China shadow, India and Taiwan work to improve culture, trade ties

Sachin Parashar, TNN, Sep 9, 2018, 23:11 IST

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NEW DELHI: Despite there being no formal diplomatic ties between them, India and Taiwan continue to quietly work together to enhance people to people and trade ties. Taiwan will host its first ever Taiwan Film Festival here next week in what Taiwanese officials described as an effort to promote Taiwanese culture in India.

The film festival follows a visit to India last week by 25 Youth Ambassadors under Taiwan’ s International Youth Ambassadors Exchange Program.

The highlight of the festival will be the screening of an award-winning documentary, Small Talk, which explores the theme of homosexuality. Aware of the euphoria in India over the decriminalisation of gay sex, Taiwan has also organised an interaction with the director of the movie for viewers. A constitutional court in Taiwan had last year struck down a law which banned same-sex marriage.

While Taiwan held screening of its movies here also in 2014, this is the first time it is calling it a film festival. "You can call this festival an attempt to promote Taiwan culture in India,’’ said an official of Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC), Taiwan’s representative office in India.

Taiwan has focused on strengthening its cultural, tourism and trade ties with India under its New Southbound Policy which seeks better relations with southeast and south Asian countries.

TECC described the visit of Youth Ambassadors last week as an important part of Taiwan’s efforts to promote public diplomacy [JB emphasis] as well as help Taiwanese youth participate in international affairs.

India stopped mentioning 'One China' in its joint statements, which underscores China’s claim over Taiwan, with Beijing in 2010 and has maintained a deliberate ambiguity ever since. While the government has taken care to not host any political delegation from Taiwan – not at a time it is working to build some trust in its relationship with China – it has worked to develop ties in other areas, not least trade where investment by Taiwanese businesses into India has shot up dramatically in the recent past.

India’s annual trade volume with Taiwan also increased from $5 billion in 2016 to $6.33 billion in 2017. Both governments are hoping that it will jump by another 20 per cent this year.

TECC had described Air India’s decision to change the name of Taiwan to Chinese Taipei on its official website as "a gesture of succumbing to the unreasonable and absurd pressure from China’’. It also expressed hope that the Indian government would provide ``firm support’’ to Indian businesses and public services so as to allow them to defend themselves from ``a foreign country’s bully actions’’. Air India had said that it had acted on the advice of India’s foreign ministry. The Indian government though had described Air India’s decision as in line with global practices.

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