It has taken almost fifty-eight years since 1962 to settle the India China relationship at comfortable level but Covid 19 pandemic has forced confused President Xi Jinping to pick up fight with almost entire world including India by making the borders hot since March 2020. India has no option but to react with aggression to safeguard its national interest. India, following ‘One China’ policy, does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan but India is having commercial, economic and cultural ties with Taiwan. While nearly 23 countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, several countries have opened offices in Taipei. These countries, which include the United States, western European, Japan, Australia and many others, follow ‘One China’ policy. However, the current hawkish Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen of DPP is pushing for nationalistic agenda. The Taiwanese know fully well the might of China. Yet, they are constantly looking for expanding their room for maneuver. US support is vital to Taiwan and supplies arms to Taiwan while maintaining a ‘One China’ policy: India has a unique diplomatic tool to push for renewed ties with Taiwan since China is continuously pushing armed insurgency in North East, J&K via Pakistan, arming Maoist rebellion against in several states via Nepal, endorsing terror by saving Masoor Azhar in United Nation.
The assertions of sovereignty by China over South China Sea and US’ pivot to Asia policy have led to rise of tensions in the region. The Taiwanese, taking note of India’s growing influence in regional and global affairs, want to engage with it in the hope that their room for maneuver vis-à-vis China will increase. Keenly watching the development of India’s ‘look east’ policy, they want to understand how India defines and protects its interests in Asia. India, which has a delicate and sensitive relationship with China, is naturally careful in dealing with Taiwan. India has sought to enhance functional linkages with Tai-wan without offending China. The bilateral trade between India and Taiwan crossed $15 billion in 2019-20. A joint study has been launched to explore the possibility of a free-trade agreement between the two sides. India has interests in Asia, particularly, the South China Sea. The Indian integration with ASEAN, South Korea and Japan is deepening. Given large complementarities between India and Taiwan, the latter can be good economic partner for India. India’s software skills and Taiwan’s hardware capabilities can be combined in joint-ventures. Taiwanese companies can invest in Indian infrastructure. Further, Taiwan, which boasts of some high-quality universities, think-thanks, and academic institutes, can be a good source for Indian institutions for academic exchanges. Presently, nearly 1000 Indian students are studying in Taiwanese science and engineering universities.
India is a large country following independent policies. India can pursue a functional relationship with Taiwan without deviating from its ‘One China’ policy, however, if China plays deceptive games at border, trade and foreign policy: Taiwan and Tibet should be raked up by India at international forums to expose China’s expansionist regime. But India must have a consistent foreign policy in respect of Taiwan in alignment with the democratic nations of the world so that Taiwan can react to Chinese hostility with conviction. When China can defy the world and promote all weather friends Pakistan and North Korea then India should act independently to frame its foreign policy.
—Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief