Taiwan’s Southward Pivot

Taiwan city skyline

nicholashan/Adobe Stock


May 14, 2018


8:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.


RAND Corporation
Room: The Forum
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA


Taiwan has publicly committed to a more active engagement with South Asia and Southeast Asia. The dimensions are understood to be largely economic. Taiwan’s economy is integrated with China’s, and this has made it vulnerable over the past decade to slowdowns in the Chinese economy. Meanwhile, growth rates in South and Southeast Asia have been increasing. Hence, one underlying motive of the southward pivot is to reduce Taiwan’s economic dependence on China through diversification. Such diversification will also protect Taiwan’s economy from severe damage in case relations between China and Taiwan become adversarial

There is also a security aspect to a southward pivot. Several countries in South and Southeast Asia maintain security relations with the United States. Through developing security relations with these countries, such as India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, in areas of common concern, such as joint coast guard and other marine activities in the South China Sea and in the Indian Ocean, Taiwan’s security can be strengthened.

Yet, building closer economic and security ties with South and Southeast Asia is challenging, not least because of how China is likely to react. For instance, China could seek to limit access of Taiwanese businesses to the Chinese consumer market. In addition, Taiwanese economic interests are closely tied to China at present, so there will be a large cost to realigning Taiwan’s economy away from China. Third, the Southeast and South Asian economies do not offer the same ease of doing business as in China, or the same availability of cost-effective and skilled labor in large scale. This could further raise the costs of diversification.

In this conference, we will discuss Taiwan’s relations with Southeast Asia and South Asia. The discussion will cover economic and security relations, exploring the challenges with economic and security coordination, and propose recommendations to improve linkages with selected countries in these regions.

Chief Guest

Benson Wang

Benson Wang

Deputy Director General
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Los Angeles (TECO-LA)

Keynote Speaker

Charles Ries

Charles Ries
Vice President, International
RAND Corporation
Trade Issues of the United States


Rafiq Dossani, Director
Center for Asia Pacific Policy, RAND Corporation
Prospects for Trade and Investment Between Taiwan and South Asia

Rich Girven
Senior Defense Research Analyst, Associate Director of the Intelligence Policy Center, RAND Corporation
South Asia’s ’One-China‘ Policy and Relations with Taiwan

Roy Lee
Deputy Executive Director, Taiwan WTO & RTA Center
Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER)
The Economic Relations Between Taiwan and Southeast Asia and the Success Factors of the New Southbound Policy

Jack Chang
Deputy General Director, Industrial Economics & Knowledge Center, Industrial Technology Research Institute
Prospects for Manufacturing Collaboration between Taiwan and Southeast Asia

Dr. Norah M. Huang
Director for International Studies and Associate Research Fellow, Prospect Foundation
Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy and Geopolitical Implications in Asia


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