Vol. 2, Issue 36
The Global Taiwan Brief Volume 2, Issue 36
Please Note: beginning today, the Global Taiwan Brief will move to a bi-weekly publication schedule. The next issue will be released on Wednesday, October 4, 2017.
By: Russell Hsiao
Assessing the Six Assurances and the US Role in Cross-Strait Dialogue
By: David An
The UTC-Rockwell Collins Merger: Good, Bad or Neutral for Taiwan?
By: Michael Reilly
Strategizing Vietnam in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy
By: Alan H. Yang
Russell Hsiao is the executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute and the chief editor of the Global Taiwan Brief.
Wu’s Faction Prevails in KMT Central Committee Elections
The Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) members went to the polls to elect the party’s 20th Central Committee on September 9. From a total of 365 candidates vying for a spot, 210 were elected onto the Central Committee—all 10 current party lawmakers who participated in the election were elected onto the central committee. Widely billed as a competition between two major factions within the party, supporters of the new chairman, Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), prevailed over those of his predecessor, Hung Shiu-chu (洪秀柱).
Since the KMT’s crushing defeat in the 2016 presidential and legislative elections, the party has undergone a divisive internal debate as senior leaders publicly wrestled for control over the future direction of a party seemingly in disarray. The tides ostensibly began to turn with the election of a new chair in May to replace the controversial Hung Shiu-chu. Yet clear fissures remain.
Voting by members in the 20th Central Committee election was reportedly the highest in the party’s history. According to a KMT press release, the percentage of vote casted was 97.12, which is higher than the previous central committee election that reached 93.38. Perhaps more importantly, 39 young people were elected onto the committee, which accounts for 18.57 percent, compared to the previous committee’s 26.
As evidence of the new chair’s growing considerable political clout, 24 of the 31 candidates who the new chair had reportedly endorsed were elected onto the Central Committee. Wu’s handpicked candidates, Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), the grandson of former president Chiang Ching-kuo, and Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生) both received a high number of votes in the election.
In contrast, only eight of the 23 candidates endorsed by the former chairperson managed to be elected onto the Central Committee—and received significantly fewer votes. While Sean Lien (連勝文), the son of former chairman Lien Chan and flag bearer of the Lien faction, reportedly received notably more votes for central committee member, many of the faction’s allies reportedly failed to be elected onto the committee.
All of the current 19th Central Standing Committee members were elected onto the 20th Central Committee. These members include current legislators Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), Hsu Chen-wei (徐榛蔚), Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), Lo, Ming-tsai (羅明才), Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀), Fai Hrong-tai (費鴻泰), Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生), and Chen Yi-Ming (陳宜民). Former legislators elected to the committee include: Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), Shen Chin-hwei (沈智慧), Kao Su-po (高思博), Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳), Lin, Tsang-min (林滄敏), Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田), Cheng Ru-fen (鄭汝芬), Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠), Su Ching-chuan (蘇清泉), Chiu Yi (邱毅), Chen Jie (陳杰), and Wang Ting-son (王廷升).
The KMT’s Central Standing Committee—the real locus of decision making—will be appointed next month on October 1. Members are elected to serve two-year terms. According to the Party Constitution, the Central Standing Committee consists of 39 members, 32 of whom are elected by party representatives. Five members will be designated by the party chair, and the remaining two positions are filled by the heads of the party’s Youth League and its Department of Youth Affairs. While the clout of the new chairman appears to be growing and will increase his chances of having allies appointed to the central standing committee, there are still chances for coalitions to form to challenge and check his faction from controlling the Standing Committee.
The main point: The new chair of the Nationalist party appears to be consolidating power with the election of the 20th Central Committee, but whether Wu will be able to implement his policies will depend on whether his factional allies gain a majority on the Central Standing Committee.
Political Warfare Alert: Former Head of Taiwan Military’s “Political Warfare Bureau” No Longer Opposes the Communists
A retired general who formerly served as director of the Taiwan military’s Political Warfare Bureau (政治作戰局) from 1983-87 recently issued a public letter explaining why he no longer opposes the communists (不再反共). Hsu Li-nong (許歷農; b. 1918) was the director of the military unit responsible for countering communist ideology and psychological warfare, but turned into a vocal advocate for unification with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) after his retirement.
In the lead-up to Armed Forces Day (軍人節)—celebrated on September 3 in Taiwan—the 99 years old retired general declared that he no longer opposes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) because China is no longer a poor and backward communist country; rather, it has emerged as a major economic power. Hsu argued that the political, social and economic conditions that made him oppose the CCP are no longer present, and because of late patriarch Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up,” the CCP had in effect abandoned communism and is on the pathway of developing “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
The retired general urged the two sides to issue a communique stating that there is only “One China in the world, Taiwan and ‘mainland’ are a part of China, China’s territory and sovereignty brook no division” (世界上祇有一個中國，台灣和大陸都是中國的一部分，中國的領土、主權不容分割), and on that premise, Hsu said that the two sides should support each other economically and militarily, as well as jointly participate in political and diplomatic activities.
A former Central Standing Committee member of the Nationalist Party, Hsu split from the KMT in 1993 to help form the far-right New Party (新黨) and established the explicitly pro-unification New Revolutionary Alliance (新同盟會)—a non-governmental organization named after Sun Yat-sen’s underground movement—that advocates for cross-Strait unification. Hsu returned to the KMT in 2005 where he remains a party member.
While Hsu’s pro-unification positions are widely known, his comments threw a spotlight on the role of the military unit that he once headed. The Political Warfare Bureau is the country’s premier military unit designed to counter communist influence operations directed primarily against Taiwan’s military. The Ministry of National Defense’s (MND) Political Warfare Bureau had its genesis in the early days of the Whampoa Military Academy (黃埔軍校), which was established in 1924.
In 1950, the name of the unit was changed from the Political Work Bureau (政工局) to Political Department (政治部) under the Ministry of National Defense, and a year later elevated to the General Political Department (總政治部). In August 1963—at the height of cross-Strait military tensions—the name of the unit was modified to the General Political Warfare Department (總政治作戰部). In 2013, during a significant period of thaw in overt political tension under the Ma administration, the organization underwent substantial reorganization and was seemingly downgraded from a department-level unit to a bureau-level unit within the MND. The position of director, which was previously held by a general, was replaced by a lieutenant general who would previously serve as the unit’s deputy director.
According to the Bureau’s website:
The Bureau is a level 1 organization of the MND. It is commanded by the Minister and is the highest commanding organization over political warfare of the national armed forces. It plans and supervises the political warfare operation of the military. In the future, the focus of political warfare operation to the outside world will be “advertisement promotion”, “psychological warfare”, and “serve the public”. Internally, the department tries to enhance “psychological counseling”, “psychological warfare training”, “military news handling” and “development of psychological combat ability of soldiers” to achieve the goals of “making stringer selves and conquer the enemies”.
The current head of the Bureau is Navy Vice Admiral Wen Zhen-guo (聞振國; b. 1959), who only became director in late 2015. The new director is the first sailor to serve in the position since the rank of the military officer holding the position was lowered in 2013. The deputy director, who was appointed only as recently as September 1, is Air Force Major General Yu Qin-wen (于親文).
According to observers, the decision to have an airman serve as deputy director is part of a broader ongoing effort under the new administration to rebalance the representation of the three services ostensibly for countering Chinese political warfare activities. Since the unit’s reorganization in 1963 to when it was renamed as the Political Warfare Bureau, the unit did not have an air force officer in a senior leadership position. Whether these efforts will yield tangible results remains to be seen.
The main point: Against the backdrop of an uptick in PRC political warfare activities, efforts appear to be underway to counter Chinese influence operations and political warfare activities by the MND’s Political Warfare Bureau.
Assessing the Six Assurances and the US Role in Cross-Strait Dialogue
David An is a senior research fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute and was previously a political military officer at the US Department of State.
“We are very much interested in the continued stability and peace in the cross-Strait area,” said Susan Thornton, acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the US State Department. She continued with her remarks, which were made ahead of the recent US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue held on June 21, 2017: “We also think it’s very important to have open lines of communication.” She added that the United States does not want to see either side of the Strait do anything that would be considered destabilizing.
My previous Global Taiwan Brief article noted that it is in Beijing’s interests to resume cross-Strait dialogues, and here I will suggest that the most constructive US role would be one that continues to strengthen diplomatic ties with both sides of the Strait, encourages cross-Strait communication and cooperation, continues to be a third-party guarantor of peace, but does not mediate the dispute, so that both sides can take the lead on their own political, economic and security issues. These are the practical action items that derive from the US government’s official policy statements.
Indeed, the United States faces its own policy constraints that prevent it from playing a more direct role in cross-Strait relations. It is constrained by two of its own Six Assurances, offered by President Reagan to Taipei on July 14, 1982. Specifically, one of the assurances states that “the United States will not play any mediation role between Taipei and Beijing.” Another of the assurances states that “the United States will not exert pressure on Taiwan to negotiate with the PRC.” While these points contained in the Six Assurances were designed to protect Taiwan by preventing Taipei from being politically forced into an agreement that it was not willing to make, it also limits the US’ actions to some extent.
Yet, maintaining and even strengthening diplomatic ties with both sides of the Strait will enable the United States to sustain its influence on both China and Taiwan, which is essential for the United States, as it uses political means to ensure peace while not technically mediating the dispute. The use of diplomatic and political tools is preferable to economic or even military action.
When it comes to US involvement in cross-Strait issues, it is important for Washington to be cautious because each side will want the United States to do more to benefit its side. However, pleasing one party often means displeasing the other. Any drastic political moves can have unintended consequences. When the United States welcomes China to participate in military exercises, such as Rim of the Pacific, it raises the question of why a previous US mutual defense treaty ally such as Taiwan is not also a participant. When the United States approves an arms sale to Taiwan—and it has sold over $46 billion US dollars in arms to Taiwan since 1990—it simultaneously draws Beijing’s ire.
Even the seemingly benign statement from acting Assistant Secretary Thornton, “we are very much interested in the continued stability and peace in the cross-Strait area,” can be problematic considering that one side has not renounced the use of force. Acting as a third party guarantor of peace allows the United States to play a helpful role in preventing conflict, without playing a mediating role. However, if one side is bent on exercising a military option to achieve its goals across the Strait, it would put itself on a collision course with the United States military, which is just as determined to maintain stability and peace, potentially also by military means. Unless one or both sides back down, the result could be a serious clash.
Two decades ago scholars from China, Taiwan and the United States held a conference in Washington, DC, and their findings are astute even today. They were quick to suggest that the US’ tacit framework in the Taiwan Strait simply be “no unification, no independence, no war.” This is a simpler rendition of acting Assistant Secretary Thornton’s statement of US preferences in cross-Strait relations, and lends brevity to nuanced policy documents on US policy toward China and Taiwan. Such US preferences set the direction of US actions regarding cross-Strait relations, even short of playing a mediating role.
The concern with any new US policies on cross-Strait matters is high political sensitivity in that the scholars attending the conference from each side of the Strait tended to see their government as tolerant and flexible, while blaming mistrust and tense relations on the other side. According to Chinese scholars at the conference, and in line with China’s particular interests, the PRC does not see a dispute over the “One-China” principle, but only over US arms sales to Taiwan and US missile defense in Asia. US and Taiwan scholars would argue the opposite, which is to say, they question the “One-China” principle, while reaffirming arms sales to Taiwan and the need for missile defense. A similar sentiment supporting Taiwan arms sales and missile defense carries over to today, especially with the growing cross-Strait military imbalance as a rationale for continued US arms sales to Taiwan, and North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launches as justification for expanding missile defense. What helpful actions can the US take to play a greater role in improving cross-Strait relations in such a hyper-sensitive political context?
One way for the United States to be more assertive on cross-Strait relations in a way that is acceptable to all sides is to use its direct diplomatic influence on each party to persuade them to improve communication with the other: not just between the PRC and Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT), but also with the Democratic People’s Party (DPP). Communication channels between China and the DPP currently appear to be a missing link in the relationship, which is concerning because the DPP is currently the incumbent party that has been elected to the Presidential Office.
As recently as August 20, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office at the State Council reiterated the assertions contained in the document “Common Aspirations and Prospects of Cross-Strait Peace and Development” (兩岸和平發展共同願景) that it first issued jointly with the KMT in 2005. It restated that the theme of peace and development is fully in line with the interests of China, Taiwan, and also with US policy statements; unfortunately, China also states that it purposefully excludes the DPP from cross-Strait overtures due to the DPP’s stance on the “One-China” principle” and the so-called “1992 Consensus.” The United States should encourage both sides to expand communication and cooperation among all political groups; this is the low hanging fruit of US diplomatic engagement with both sides of the Strait, considering it is constrained by the politically sensitive environment and by its own policies.
The main point: The United States can play a greater role in cross-Strait relations by diplomatically and politically influencing both sides to strengthen communication and cooperation across the Taiwan Strait, especially between China and both the KMT the DPP; yet the United States is also constrained by its own policies and the strategic circumstances of the fragile politics across the Strait.
The UTC-Rockwell Collins Merger: Good, Bad or Neutral for Taiwan?
Michael Reilly is a former British diplomat, from 2009 – 2015 he was a senior representative of UK defense company BAE Systems.
On September 4, United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a US conglomerate best known for being the parent company of Otis Elevators and Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, confirmed widespread rumours when it announced it had agreed to a USD $30 billion takeover of avionics company Rockwell Collins. The deal was widely presented in media reports as a means of strengthening the position of aerospace components manufacturers in their negotiations with plane makers, so perhaps not surprisingly Boeing has already threatened to oppose the deal.
Taiwan could be forgiven for not being concerned by the planned deal. Analysis has focused primarily on the two companies’ commercial aerospace business. In addition to Pratt & Whitney aero-engines, this includes cabin in-flight entertainment, simulators, and communication and navigation systems. Much less attention has been given either to the two companies’ defense contracts or their sales to China. As a proportion of overall business, defense contracts are more important to Rockwell Collins than to UTC: its 2016 4th quarter sales to governments (read: “defense”) were 8 percent higher than corresponding commercial sales. As the margins on such sales were also bigger, their importance to the company was even greater; 70 percent of these sales were of avionics. In the defense business, avionics may not have the same high public profile as fighter aircraft, such as an F-16 or F-35 or even an engine, but they play an increasingly critical role in aircraft. The fuselage of an aircraft might typically last for 40 years or even longer but ICT control systems are likely to be outdated in less than half that time.
New avionics systems are therefore essential to keeping planes combat effective and account for the majority of Taiwan’s F-16 upgrade program. And, if Taiwan goes ahead as planned with domestic manufacture of a new jet trainer, the avionics will almost certainly have to be sourced from a foreign supplier. Rockwell Collins is not the only such supplier, nor even the most important, but it does offer key technology such as Heads-Up Display helmets (HUDs) for pilots, by means of which essential cockpit display information is projected onto the pilot’s helmet visor, removing the need for him or her to look down at the controls; anti-jam electronics and other vital electronic warfare material . Could Taiwan’s ability to procure such equipment be at risk from the merger?
UTC’s Pratt & Whitney currently provides engines for the F-15, F-16 and F-35 aircraft, among others, but UTC’s Chinese business is of greater interest in the current context. It has 20,000 employees in China, with Pratt & Whitney alone having four joint ventures with Chinese companies. In 2016, UTC’s group sales were USD $57.4 billion. Although a separate figure for sales to China is not given, in 2011 these were around USD $11 billion, so roughly 20 percent of all UTC group sales and almost double Rockwell Collins’ total 2016 sales. Sales of defense equipment to China are prohibited under export control regulations but in 2012, UTC was fined USD $75 million after it admitted selling military technology to China in contravention of these regulations. The fine was barely a slap on the wrist in the context of UTC’s annual sales but the technology was of vital importance to China, enabling it to produce its Z10 attack helicopter. This is designed to carry both air to ground and air to air missiles and trials have also been conducted of amphibious operations, suggesting the Z10 would play an essential role in any attack on Taiwan .
At the time, UTC owned Sikorsky helicopters and apparently sold the technology to China, with the hope of gaining a competitive advantage in the helicopter market there by doing so. UTC has since sold its Sikorsky business to Lockheed Martin; however, the offending technology came, not from Sikorsky, but from Pratt & Whitney Canada, which remains very much part of UTC.
Taiwan is more than ever reliant on the United States for its defense needs. European companies such as Rolls-Royce of the United Kingdom and MAN of Germany, makers of aircraft and naval engines respectively, have already refused to supply their equipment to Taiwan on defense platforms for fear of incurring Chinese displeasure. Might an enlarged UTC, for whom business in China is so important, follow suit?
In the case of the provision of engines for military aircraft from Pratt & Whitney, the answer is most probably not. Under the US’ Arms Export Control Act (AECA), overseas sales of defense equipment can be either on a government-to-government basis under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, or approved as Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). All Taiwan’s purchases of defense “platforms” or complete equipment, such as fighter aircraft, armored vehicles or anti-missile defense systems, take place under the FMS program. The US agrees what platforms it will allow Taiwan to acquire and the manufacturers are mandated to supply them. This gives the companies involved an important degree of cover if they also do business in China. The jet engines on the majority of Taiwan’s fighter aircraft (its French built Mirages are an exception) come from GE, Honeywell, and Pratt & Whitney, all of whom have large business interests in China, which do not appear to have suffered from their defense sales to Taiwan.
Avionics are another matter. While much of Taiwan’s requirements in this area are supplied through FMS there is also scope for Direct Commercial Sales under which Taiwan would buy equipment direct from the manufacturer, with the US government’s approval but not under a formal government program. And where equipment is supplied through FMS, competitive bids are possible if alternative suppliers exist, injecting a degree of competition into the process and helping keep prices under control. The avionics element of defense procurement will grow in importance for Taiwan in coming years, partly because of upgrade programs for both the IDF and F-16 and the project to build an indigenous jet trainer, but also because the ICT element of defense systems will grow ever more important. Rockwell Collins is not the only supplier of the equipment it makes in these areas, nor even the most important. But that means it would also be easier for new parent UTC to make a gesture to the PRC government by declining to bid for Taiwanese avionics business. Doing so may not be a critical blow to Taiwan’s defense but it would reduce competition, thereby raising prices, reducing options, and putting further pressure on the remaining suppliers.
The main point: In this case, what might be bad for Boeing may also be bad for Taiwan.
Strategizing Vietnam in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy
Dr. Alan Yang is the executive director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, associate professor at the Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, and Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University in Taiwan.
Since the 1980s, Taiwan and Vietnam have been conducting in depth non-governmental exchanges. Although neither country shared diplomatic ties, each set up representative office with semi-official status. Taiwan established Taiwan Economic and Cultural Offices (TECO) in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 1992. In 1993, Vietnam established Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office (VECO) in Taipei. Bilateral collaboration between Taiwan and Vietnam in trade and economic affairs has also contributed to various institutional arrangements and agreements, the latest of which is the bilateral agreement on technical and scientific cooperation in soil and groundwater protection. In particular, the civilian exchanges between the two societies have continued to deepen due to the increasing numbers of transnational marriages.
Taiwan-Vietnam Relations: the 3 “M”s of Connectivity
Bilateral ties between Taiwan and Vietnam can be represented using 3 “M”s: First, Taiwan and Vietnam have been jointly making profits for decades in trade and investment. As Vietnam passed its Foreign Investment Law in 1987, increasing numbers of Taiwanese businesspeople (Taishang) were attracted to investment opportunities in Vietnam to build up local manufacturing and industrial networks. Encouraged by the Go South Policy initiated by President Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan invested in the development of several industrial parks (such as Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone) in Vietnam, boosting local economic growth and the process of technical cooperation. Taiwan became the largest foreign investor in Vietnam before the mid 2000s.
According to the Department of Investment Services of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, from the 1950s to 1990s there were 383 projects funded by Taiwanese investment in Vietnam, which amounted to USD $12.09 billion. This dollar amount is higher than in Malaysia, the most popular destination of Taiwanese investment, which had 1,786 projects during the same period. Up to the present, Taiwan has developed 2,509 projects in Vietnam with a value of USD $31.5 billion. Vietnam has ranked highest in Taishang’s alternatives for overseas investment.
Second, there are 39 bilateral agreements between Taiwan and Vietnam, representing joint efforts to make institutional arrangements. Among them, more than 35 were signed after the 1990s in the fields of education, customs, mutual legal assistance, tourism, immigration, investment promotion, science and technology, and more. In particular, the Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments in 1993 and the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income in 1998 were regarded as the key institutions to secure multifaceted interaction between the two countries. Nevertheless, the abovementioned agreements were signed in the 1990s, making the content in urgent need of update.
Third, Taiwan and Vietnam not only promote mutual interests and advance institutional partnerships, but both societies are also making families. In 2017, there are now 98,830 Vietnamese spouses in Taiwan. In addition to those being naturalized as Taiwanese, their children become one of the major driving forces of social and economic development in Taiwan. Most are still in secondary schools, while some are enrolled in universities.
The 3 “M”s phenomena demonstrate the entwined relationships and multifaceted engagement between Taiwan and Vietnam, resulting in intricate transnational social links that help shape community awareness between two countries.
The increasing interdependence may also lead to new challenges. For example, some Taiwanese companies in Vietnam recently faced stiff fines from the Vietnamese government for violating environmental standards and regulations, resulting in protests from local environmental groups and civil society activists, such as in the case of Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation. Some Vietnamese labor protests have taken place because of the neglect of labor rights by Chinese cadres appointed and hired by some Taiwanese companies. Coupled with the recent dispute over the South China Sea, China’s and Vietnam’s tension and conflict further affected Taishang. The emergence of these factors indirectly caused the international image and business reputation of Taiwan in Vietnam to deteriorate, eroding their partnership.
In addition, while cross-Strait relations are stalled, Beijing has also put more pressure on Taiwan’s regional counterparts in Southeast Asia. For example, in January and May of 2017, China signed two joint communiqués with Vietnam, in which they stated their opposition to any official relations between Vietnam and Taiwan in a consistent tone. China hopes to weaken Taiwan’s ability to execute its New Southbound Policy. In spite of this, it is important to note that the two paragraphs of the joint communiqué actually recapitulate the contents of the 2015 communiqué, without any additional stipulations, which indirectly shows that Vietnam is still resilient in the face of China’s pressure and wants to maintain its constructive partnership with Taiwan.
Reinforcing Social Connectivity
Nevertheless, Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy highlights Vietnam as one of the six priority countries, and aims to reinforce its existing ties and explore new partnership opportunities with Vietnam based upon the shared interests, institutional arrangements, and deepened social connectivity of the past three decades. The policy can provide the impetus for shaping shared community consciousness between the two countries by strategizing social connectivity through a bottom-up approach.
Among them, maintaining and upgrading constructive dialogues with Vietnamese policy communities should be prioritized. The track II platforms and dialogues between Taiwan and Vietnam are unobstructed, which lead to unimpeded communication and collaboration on the issues of education, trade, investment, and technological cooperation. In May 2016, a new “Amity Association of Parliament Members of Taiwan and Vietnam” was set up in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan welcomed by the Vietnamese Representative of VECO. Later in January 2017, the ”Taiwan-New Southbound Policy Countries Parliamentary Amity Association” was installed, hoping to facilitate the exchanges of parliamentarians as well as deepen the cooperation and discussion of mutually beneficial policies. New type of enhanced exchanges and further collaboration among policy communities will not only reduce the misperception and miscommunication between Taiwan and neighboring countries, but will develop reciprocal policies sustainably and pragmatically as well.
Second, it is extremely significant to strengthen the industrial network and value-added production chains among Taiwan, Vietnam and mainland Southeast Asian counterparts. Taiwan’s foreign investment approach adopted in the 1980s needs to be refined for the implementation of the New Southbound Policy. New efforts are being made with Vietnamese communities to jointly cultivate industrial talent, to upgrade the production network for a globalizing context, and to take the social and economic development of Vietnamese localities into consideration. Moreover, Taishang are encouraged to more actively assume corporate social responsibility in line with local social norms and environmental standards. New models of Taishang will highlight Taiwan’s contribution, not only to economic development, but to social and environmental responsibility, which will propel the bilateral partnership for the next three decades.
Finally, the reinforcement of the Taiwan-Vietnam partnership lies in the sincere interaction between the two societies. The idea of “caring societies” has been highly valued by ASEAN countries for more than two decades, then becoming the third pillar of ASEAN as the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). Considered improvements in labor rights, nationality regulation, social welfare,and capacity building projects for Vietnamese immigrants in Taiwan are considered domestic institutional reforms, but are also an important agenda for developing common interests between Taiwan and Vietnam.
The main point: Taiwan-Vietnam relations, though unofficial, are diverse and have grown over the last thirty years. Taiwan is one the largest foreign investors in Vietnam, but in addition to commercial ties, there is also a large Vietnamese population in Taiwan through intermarriage and for labor. The New Southbound Policy seeks to enhance both the economic and the people-to-people aspects of Taiwan-Vietnam relations.