Taiwan’s outreach to Southeast Asia began in the 1990s, and over the past three decades, its engagement and positioning in the region has been strengthened. Since the initiation of President Tsai Ing-wen’s flagship foreign policy framework- the New Southbound Policy in 2016, Taiwan-Southeast Asia relations have deepened further. There have been significant developments indicating the robustness of the ties.
Taiwan has been proactively engaging the countries of the region. From robust people-to-people ties to the contribution of the taishang (Taiwan businesses) in expanding commercial ties between Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Taiwan’s Southeast Asia policy is built on consistent engagement, sustained focus, and the effective use of its soft as well as warm power.
To analyze Taiwan’s ties with Southeast Asia comprehensively, Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF) has published an edited report offering diverse perspectives on Taiwan’s bilateral ties with Southeast Asia. The editors of the report Prof Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, Dr. Alan H. Yang, and Dr. Sana Hashmi curated contributions from the experts on Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Given most contributors were experts from the region, the report presents a unique perspective on Taiwan-Southeast Asia that is traditionally viewed either through the China lens or Taiwan’s commercial ties with the countries of the region. There was a consensus among the contributors of the report that the New Southbound Policy holds immense potential, and will further boost Taiwan’s outreach to Southeast Asia. This timely report is our attempt to provide a nuanced outlook on Taiwan-Southeast Asia relations and the role of the New Southbound Policy.