Modi attends BRICS with Xi, meets Foxconn chief amid China-Taiwan row


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday met the Chairman of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Technology Group — globally known as Foxconn. 

The meeting between PM Modi and Young Liu — centred on Foxconn’s plans to expand its manufacturing capacity in India — came the same day the former also shared a virtual stage with China President Xi Jinping at the 14th BRICS Summit.

Both India and Taiwan’s relationship with China is marked by discord. 

While India and China have been locked in a two-year stand-off in Ladakh, China-Taiwan tensions have been soaring in recent months, with Taipei warning that it faces a serious military threat from Beijing. 

China describes Taiwan as a breakaway province, but the latter identifies itself as a sovereign nation.

Meanwhile, India’s relationship with Taiwan is mostly focussed on promoting trade, investments and tourism. 

While New Delhi follows the ‘One-China’ policy, the threat of China is a significant factor that serves as a hurdle in realising the full potential of ties between India and Taiwan.

At their meeting Thursday, Modi and the Foxconn chair discussed the “company’s plans for expanding electronics manufacturing capacity in India, including in semiconductors”, a tweet from the PM’s Twitter handle said. 

“Our push for EV (electric vehicle) manufacturing is in line with our commitment of net zero emission,” the tweet added.

Foxconn is said to be considering setting up an EV manufacturing unit in India through its subsidiary Foxtron, which is a joint venture between Foxconn and another Taiwanese company, Hua-Chuang, started in February 2020. 

The company is a new entrant in the market for EVs. Last year, it purchased a plant in the US to produce EVs.  

In its annual report for 2021, Foxconn said it would replicate this model in south Asia. This development also benefits India as it has been pushing EV-makers to invest in the country to make a gradual shift to vehicles that run on green energy and cut down its reliance on import of crude oil. 

Foxconn has reportedly been eyeing a tie-up with an Indian partner to manufacture EVs and is looking at Tamil Nadu to set up its new facility. The company is also said to be looking at Vietnam and Indonesia as probable markets for investments.

The company is widely known for manufacturing iPhones for Apple from a facility in Sriperumbudur near Chennai. Foxconn’s India unit Bharat FIH also operates a separate facility that manufactures Xiaomi phones.  

Foxconn’s consolidated revenue increased by 12 per cent in 2021 to $203.7 billion from the previous year, according to its annual report.

Also Read: As Taiwan pushes back against China reunification call, a look at the 350-year-old dispute


EVs in India

After meeting Modi, Liu also met Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who handles the portfolios of railways, communication, and electronics and information technology.

Sales of passenger electric cars in India jumped over 2.5 times to 17,804 units in 2021-22, data from the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association shows.

Foxconn is the second foreign player after America’s Tesla that has evinced interest in setting up a facility in India for EVs. 

However, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said that his company will not manufacture in India unless it is allowed to first sell and service them locally.

Earlier this month, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said Musk can manufacture Tesla electric cars in the country but it will be “unfair” for India if it wants to manufacture in China and sell those cars here.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

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