Experts from the United States, Taiwan, and the Philippines shared their insights on the implications of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP) at a public lecture held in the Hall of Wisdom, Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City on July 13, 2018.
Focusing on the policy’s significance for the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region, the experts explained that the NSP aims to strengthen Taiwan’s relationships with the following countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia, and New Zealand.
The resource persons expressed optimism in the convergence of national interests and the projected gains that the NSP would bring to the Philippines and the region.
Professor Alan Hao Yang, PhD, executive director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) in National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan, talked of the origins and importance of the NSP. He explained that with this policy, Taiwan was enhancing regional integration, strengthening partnerships, and promoting its cultural, technological, and economic assets, among others. He added that through the NSP, Taiwan and the Philippines could jointly nourish its youth and workforce.
Scott Kennedy, PhD, deputy director of the Freeman Chair in China Studies in CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) in Washington DC, USA, highlighted the areas where the NSP could help the Philippines and what the Philippines could do to make the policy more effective. He also explained that the NSP was a totally different engagement from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, wherein China is about making economic investments in other countries while Taiwan is about adjusting to changing global realities.
Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project in CSIS, and Derek Mitchell, former US ambassador to Myanmar and president of the National Democratic Institute, talked of US interests and how the NSP was also important for the US.
Glaser discussed the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” or the US strategy toward the region, which she said built on the strategies of previous administrations and overlapped with other countries’ interests where there were shared interests on issues, such as respect for sovereignty, freedom of navigation, peaceful resolution of disputes, adherence to international rules and norms, and free and fair trade through bilateral agreements. Mitchell added that the US should be involved in the discussions since it had a strong partnership with Taiwan and that there were common interests, such as reaffirming rules-based order and promoting peace, development, stability, security, and free trade.
Professor Herman Kraft of the Department of Political Science, College of Social Science and Philosophy (CSSP), UP Diliman, presented his assessment of the NSP. He said that everybody should be interested in this strategic or long-term plan since it promised co-prosperity in the region. He further said that the Philippines could complement the policy with its own strategies for economic and trade collaboration, resource sharing, regional connectivity, and people-to-people exchanges, among others.
The public lecture was sponsored by the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) Strategic Studies Program (SSP), in collaboration with the UP Department of Political Science, Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, Inc. (APPFI) and the CSIS. (Fred Dabu, UP MPRO)