Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has denied that her plan to strengthen economic ties with other countries was to compete with China's new Silk Route project to revive the historic economic corridor.
"It is not about competing with China, but about emphasising Taiwan's own advantages and promoting mutually beneficial development as a member of the regional community," Tsai said late Friday.
The "New Southbound Policy", launched by Tsai in 2016, focuses on economics and trade and is completely different from China's Silk Route project, the President said.
Taiwan has "immense soft power capabilities" in terms of healthcare, education and agriculture, among other sectors, and this could not be hindered by either money or politics, Efe news quoted Tsai as saying.
According to the government, the policy aims to boost economic ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members, along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand.
Taiwan, which wishes to reduce its economic dependence on China, contributed an accumulated foreign investment of $95 billion to the New Southbound countries by December 2016, according to data from the foreign affairs ministry.
Since the policy was implemented last year, the policy has shown results including the increase in tourists and foreign students from the region, as well as a rise in trade with Asean countries, Taiwanese minister John Deng said earlier on Friday.
A total of 513,457 tourists from the 18 countries visited Taiwan between January and March 2017, an increase of 33.26 per cent from the same period last year, according to cabinet figures.
Trade between the island nation and the 18 countries between June 2016 and March 2017 reached $77.87 billion, a 10.11 per cent year-on-year rise.