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New Southbound Policy Workshop I: Regional Perspectives

Visiting Scholars from the Philippines and Indonesia share their perspectives of the Tsai administration’s New Southbound Policy two years after its implementation

[alaya_dropcap]O[/alaya_dropcap]n May 11, 2018, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) at National Chengchi University (NCCU), in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (ROC), hosted a workshop which showcased research from visiting scholars from the Philippines and Indonesia to analyze the Tsai administration’s New Southbound Policy. Two years have passed since the initial announcement of this policy by current Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The visiting scholars provided regional perspectives of the strategy so far from their respective nations.

Dr. Herman Joseph S. Kraft, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Dr. Dodi Wirawan Irawanto, Associate Professor in the Department of Management at the University of Brawijaya, and Ms. Hana Hanifah, a Research Fellow at the Habibie Center and a current Visiting Research Fellow at CSEAS, shared their current research projects with attendees of the workshop.

Dr. Kraft’s research addressed whether Taiwan can utilize the New Southbound Policy to promote democracy and human rights. Based on his research, Dr. Kraft identified that these features are not explicitly utilized by Taiwan and areas where democracy and human rights can be promoted is through people-to-people exchanges, medical cooperation, and the ASEAN socio-cultural community. Dr. Irawanto’s research attempted to determine the factors affecting cross-cultural management between Taiwanese and Indonesian Business Administration Master’s students. This research concluded that both Taiwanese and Indonesians share a collectivist behavior regarding management. Ms. Hanifah’s research focused on Southeast Asia’s perceptions of Taiwan. Her research focused on 10 ASEAN member states and concluded that Taiwan is viewed as a pragmatic economic actor and partner that has significant cultural ties, predominantly people-to-people ties via overseas Chinese, with many ASEAN nations. However, ASEAN is wary of its threat perception of Taiwan with respect to Cross-Strait issues.

After a brief Q&A session, Dr. Alan Yang, Director of CSEAS at NCCU, concluded the workshop with various insights on Taiwan regarding its engagements with the South and Southeast Asia. Dr. Yang reassured scholars and attendees that Taiwan’s engagements with ASEAN South Asian nations are conducted by bipartisan consensus and that the current New Southbound Policy is different from past initiatives. According to Dr. Yang, Taiwan is working to improve migrant worker rights and is focused on regional cooperation, not competition. Taiwan, through the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), is looking for ways to work with its neighbors at the micro-level and not solely at the national level. The audience was reminded that a second workshop is to be conducted during the upcoming fall semester. For those interested in Southeast and South Asian studies, it will certainly be an event one shouldn’t miss.