Taiwan’s Labour Minister apologises for ‘racist’ jibe against Indian workers | World News - Hindustan Times

Taiwan’s Labour Minister apologises for ‘racist’ jibe against Indian workers

Mar 07, 2024 10:15 AM IST

Taiwan plans to recruit Indian workers after signing an MOU with India on February 16 to bolster people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Taiwan’s Labour Minister Hsu Ming-chun has apologised for her inappropriate comments on her government's plans to recruit Indian migrant workers from a particular region which drew sharp criticism for being “racist”.

Taiwan’s Labour Minister Hsu Ming-chun (Source: X/@RadioTaiwan_Eng)
Taiwan’s Labour Minister Hsu Ming-chun (Source: X/@RadioTaiwan_Eng)

Taiwan plans to recruit Indian workers after signing an MOU with India on February 16 to bolster people-to-people exchanges between the two countries and help alleviate labour shortages in Taiwan’s industries, according to a recent statement by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Elaborating on the recruitment plan, Hsu in a talk show on Taiwan television said her ministry will first recruit Indian workers from the North-Eastern states of India because "their skin colour and dietary habits are closer to ours," Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Tuesday.

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In addition, Hsu reported to have said the Indians there are "mostly Christians" who are adept at manufacturing, construction, and farming.

Significantly, Hsu said the recruitment strategy was based on Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) assessments, according to the report.

Her comments drew sharp criticism from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party legislator Chen Kuan-ting who in a posting on X "strongly condemned" Hsu's comments, arguing that skin colour and race should not be criteria for recruiting migrant workers.

“In response to recent statements from the Minister of Labour, I wish to express my strong condemnation. As a member of Parliament, I want to reaffirm that Taiwan values everyone, irrespective of their race, culture, or religion. It is my firm belief that individuals from all backgrounds deserve respect, and I am committed to upholding this principle in Taiwan," he said in a video post.

At a legislative hearing on Tuesday morning, Hsu apologised for her "inaccurate" comments that caused misunderstanding.

Taiwan's labour policies, whether directed at local or foreign workers, are crafted with equality in mind and are never discriminating, she said, according to the CNA report.

She said she praised Indian workers' abilities and performance in the interview because she had hoped to highlight these attributes, Hsu added.

In a statement, Taiwan’s Labour Ministry apologised for Hsu's "inaccurate" choice of words, saying that the minister's comments were not meant to discriminate.

In a statement on Tuesday, the MOFA also apologised for "not entirely appropriate" narratives by Taiwan's government agencies regarding the planned recruitment of Indian workers that has sparked criticism internationally and domestically.

The MOFA statement said Taiwan and India completed the signing of an MOU on labour force cooperation on February 16 this year.

“This accord will bolster people-to-people exchanges between the two countries and help alleviate labour shortages in Taiwan’s industries. Indeed, the MOU constitutes a reciprocal arrangement that benefits both sides”, it said.

Taiwan will welcome any Indian worker who meets the conditions for recruitment and satisfies industry demand, regardless of their ethnic background. Qualified workers will be treated fairly and accorded due protection under Taiwanese law, it said.

“Recently, in discussions with relevant sectors in Taiwan’s society, certain government agencies have made remarks that were not entirely appropriate. This has led to criticism among Taiwan’s society, Indian friends, and other international stakeholders," it said.

The government expresses sincere apologies for this situation. It will earnestly review its actions and make needed improvements going forward, it said.

“Taiwan boasts a civil society that embraces different views and allows for a wide array of voices to be heard. Taiwan also fully respects India’s diverse and rich culture and cherishes the friendship between the peoples of Taiwan and India," it said.

Taiwan will spare no effort in advancing cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between the two countries, with the aim of further elevating cooperation and partnership between Taiwan and India, it said.

The Taiwan government also hopes that the people of Taiwan will support the country’s efforts to engage with the world, further advance substantive interactions with partners in the Indo-Pacific region, and thereby bolster reciprocal and mutually beneficial exchanges, it said.

China claims the self-administered breakaway island of Taiwan is part of it under the 'One China' policy. Beijing has repeatedly asserted that national reunification was its ultimate goal and it will not renounce the use of force if the island takes steps towards independence.

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