Monday, May 23, 2016

Tsai and the Southbound Policy: Window Dressing or the Real Deal?

The strategy should be multifaceted and not solely aimed at the enrichment of the few. Can they make it happen? 

Much has been said in recent months about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “southbound policy,” part of her administration’s goal of reducing the nation’s reliance on China. Sometimes referred to as the “southbound policy 3.0” because of previous — and largely failed — attempts since the 1990s, the plan, or at least the little that we know about it, seems to be primarily focused on trade and economics, which suggests that this could be a mere continuation of past efforts to redirect capital and manufacturing toward ASEAN members. However, focusing on trade alone would be both a mistake and a missed opportunity. 

In order to make meaningful contributions, the policy will have to be more than a slogan. It must be part of a strategy. Consequently, the new Southbound Policy Coordination Office that has been created at the Presidential Office will have to adopt a multifaceted approach to engagement with this vibrant part of the world. 

My article, published today in The News Lens International, continues here.

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