Taiwan will open a research institute on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to seek closer ties with the regional group, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
An unnamed source told The Economic Daily News that at the end of 2008 President Ma Ying-jeou instructed the foreign ministry to monitor the trend of Southeast Asia's regional integration.
The foreign ministry commissioned the Chung-Hwa Institute for Economic Research to establish a research institute on ASEAN affairs, the source said.
The ASEAN research institute will open on Wednesday in Taipei and will start formal operations from Oct 1, 2010. President Ma Ying-jeou will address the opening ceremony of the research institute.
The ASEAN research institute will study strategies to help Taiwan forge closer ties with ASEAN, the source said.
Taiwan, recognised by only 23 countries, is getting increasingly worried about regional integration, especially ASEAN's signing trade pacts and holding dialogue with China, Japan and South Korea.
Taiwan has asked to join the ASEAN Plus Three dialogue - which would expand it to ASEAN Plus Four - and to sign a free trade agreement with ASEAN, but ASEAN has not responded yet. All 10 ASEAN members recognise China, which regards Taiwan as its breakaway province.