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Viewpoint: A Padma award with a message for China

Girish Linganna decodes the message behind India conferring the Padma Bhushan award, the third-highest civilian honour, on Liu Young-way, the CEO of Foxconn, the world's largest electronics component manufacturer based in Taipei, Taiwan

Column A Padma award with a message for China
First Published Jan 27, 2024, 10:26 AM IST

India, for the first time, awarded one of its top civilian honours to an individual from Taiwan, sending a message to Beijing with this unprecedented move. Liu Young-way, the chief executive of Foxconn -- the largest electronics component manufacturer in the world based in Taipei -- was selected for the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India.

At 66 years old, Liu will receive the award from President Droupadi Murmu in a ceremony scheduled for later this year. The announcement of 132 awardees in different Padma award categories was made on the eve of India's Republic Day.

On social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a congratulatory message to the awardees, expressing that India values their contributions in various fields.

This acknowledgement occurs as PM Modi is actively working to woo international investors and position India as the upcoming manufacturing centre in Asia, coinciding with efforts by the United States and its allies to shift supply chains away from China.

During a visit to New Delhi last March, Liu called on PM Modi. Foxconn released a statement then, stating their commitment to developing an ecosystem in India that would enable all their stakeholders to share, collaborate, and prosper.

Foxconn recently announced its intentions to establish a semiconductor packaging and testing facility in India in collaboration with HCL Group, a domestic technology company. 

In November, Foxconn, a major supplier for the American technology giant Apple, declared its plans to invest US$1.6 billion in India as part of its strategy to diversify its operations beyond China.

Foxconn initiated the production of the Apple iPhone XR in its Indian factory in 2019 and by 2023, it had also started the manufacturing of iPhone 14 models at the same location.

At the same time, New Delhi has been motivating Taiwan's leading semiconductor company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), to set up a chip fabrication facility in India.

Reflecting the growth of informal relationships, the trade volume between India and Taiwan has dramatically increased from slightly above US$1 billion in 2001 to $7 billion in 2021.

In July last year, a third Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre, serving effectively as a consulate for Taiwan, was inaugurated in Mumbai.

Beijing considers Taiwan as a territory of China and is prepared to use force if needed for reunification. The majority of nations, India included, do not officially acknowledge Taiwan as a separate state.

The author is a Defence, Aerospace and Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. Views expressed are personal

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