India may soon send workers to Taiwan

Envoy to India says that New Delhi and Taipei are exploring possibility of sending workers to Taiwan

An Oberoi Hotel employee making Namaste gesture (Wikimedia Commons)

New Delhi (Taiwan News) -- In a media interview earlier this week, Taiwan's top envoy to India says Taipei and New Delhi are exploring a proposal to allow the employment of Indian workers in Taiwan, amid growing relations between the two countries.

The Telegraph India reports Taiwan's cultural representative to India, Tien Chung-kwang (田中光), as saying that the two countries have begun negotiating an agreement under which Taiwan will seek to hire people from the northeastern states of India to work in its hospitality sector as bridge toward deepening bilateral ties. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the ground work for an unparalleled "quantum jump in relations" between India and Taiwan, Tien told the Telegraph.

Tien said a substantial Indian workforce in Taiwan will also help improve Indians' understanding of the island and that the government in New Delhi is very supportive of the proposal.

More than 500,000 foreign migrant workers, mainly from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, are now working in Taiwan, however more are needed, especially as Indonesia is set to bring the number of migrants as domestic help sent overseas down to zero this year. According to the National Immigration Agency there were 2,873 Indian nationals residing in Taiwan as of Dec. 28, 2016. 

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office last May, her administration has been working to deepen ties with South Asia and Southeast Asia as a part of her "New Southbound Policy."

For its part, India has been pursuing its "Act East policy" and China's recent military activities in the South China Sea have threatened New Delhi's interests in the region. In addition, despite protests from New Delhi, Beijing has been pressing forward with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of its Silk Road Economic Belt scheme. 

Since September, the two nations have signed three agreements -- previously unreported -- regarding collaboration in preserving and promoting heritage railways, improving air connectivity, and enhancing cooperation in agriculture, according to the newspaper.

Last month, 22 Indian parliamentarians also set up a formal platform for "friendship" with the India-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Forum (ITPAF).

Tien noted this convergence of interest between the two countries,  describing Modi as "the leader in India with probably the best understanding of Taiwan, and I can tell you, his Act East policy and our New Southbound policy have met."

"This period in our relations, after Prime Minister Modi came to power, is the most dynamic in our history and I promise you there will be a quantum jump in relations over the next three to four years," Tien said.