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Taiwan Pursues Employment Agreement with India Amidst Controversy

Taiwan’s efforts to establish an employment mobility agreement with India have sparked debate and increased regional geopolitical tensions. The draft memorandum of understanding, which was initiated in September, aims to facilitate the employment of thousands of Indian workers in Taiwan’s various sectors. Although Taiwanese authorities have deemed the official figure of 100,000 workers to be inaccurate, the deal is nearing completion.

This agreement is significant not only for economic cooperation, but also for its potential to improve bilateral relations between Taiwan and India. Although the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations, they have established representative offices in each other’s capitals since 1995.

The volume of trade between them has increased significantly, reaching USD 8.9 billion in 2021 from USD 2 billion in 2006

However, the impending agreement has sparked a backlash on multiple fronts. China, which fiercely opposes Taiwan’s sovereignty, sees India’s growing ties with the island nation as a threat. Concerns in Taiwan about potential job losses for Indian workers have added fuel to the fire, despite hopes for improved bilateral relations.

The aging population and the need for diverse labor in sectors such as agriculture and industry are driving Taiwan’s pursuit of foreign workers, including those from India. The drop in the local labor force caused by the pandemic has exacerbated this need. For India, the agreement provides an opportunity to provide lucrative employment opportunities abroad to its sizable workforce.

The announcement of the pact, however, has sparked online racist campaigns against Indians, which the Taiwanese government attributes to China’s concerted efforts to tarnish Taiwan’s image and strain relations with India.

The geopolitical implications of the agreement are significant, particularly in light of China’s claims over Taiwan. Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes any diplomatic moves that would strengthen Taiwan’s sovereignty. India’s participation in a significant economic agreement with Taiwan is likely to aggravate China’s discontent in the region.

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