Taiwan: and importance for india

Amid the continuing border standoff, there is increasing public antagonism towards china in india. Importance of  Taiwan also increase at the same time. This is leading to more public discussion about possible asymmetric diplomatic strategies to challenge China, such as altering India’s “one China policy” to enhance India’s relations with Taiwan and other south Asian countries.

According to the ‘One China Principle’ maintained by China, Beijing does not maintain a diplomatic relations with countries that recognizes Taiwan as an independent nation. This means that, if a nation wants to open an embassy or consulate in Taiwan that would come at the cost of the relationship that they have with China. Considering the economic opportunities that Beijing can offer in today’s world scenario, only a few countries across the world recognises Taiwan as an independent nation; to be precise, with the recent development, 19 countries. While most of these countries are too small in terms of geography as well as trade to be a significant partner for Taiwan, they still give legitimacy to the claims made by Taiwan for a long period of time. Out of those 19, none of the countries are from Asia.

Global Times, the official newspaper, took a jibe at the current Indian foreign policy and reported that “…some Indian strategists have advised the Narendra  Modi government to play the Taiwan card, using the commitment of the ‘One-China’ policy as leverage in exchange for China’s endorsement of One India”. It also stated that by challenging China over the Taiwan question, “India is playing with fire”.

There are divergent views in India on this issue — on one hand, some foreign policy strategists maintain that India should play the ‘Taiwan card’ and make China adhere to ‘One India policy’, while on the other hand, some feel that MEA should follow the line of previous Indian governments and get an advance sanction of Mainland China for projects with Taiwan.

For Taiwan, india one of the key partners.  The Sino-Taiwan tension opens up a lot of diplomatic and strategic opportunities for India. Though this wouldn’t mean that India must directly engage with Taiwan, there are many ways through which the country can put China under pressure through Taiwan. For instance, the country may engage in talks to encourage trade so as to make the Chinese side more sensitive on an issue emerging from their own backyard. This would mean that the Chinese aggression across the Indo-China border will never ever happen as China would be more careful regarding its actions. This will send a strong message to the Beijing that, in the event of further Chinese aggression, India also do have a trump card in its pocket. It is for the same reason why the United States is often found to be wooing Taiwan; to protect its interests in the South China Sea. As a former diplomat once commented, “Diplomacy is the velvet glove that cloaks the fist of power.” Well, when Beijing ignores India’s repeated requests for peace and cooperation, Delhi needs some ‘velvet gloves’ like Taiwan to stop the Chinese aggression.

There are five areas where India and Taiwan could cooperate  to mutual benefit: Artificial intelligence, Indo-Pacific Strategy, Defence ties, Mandarin learning, and the IT sector. Under the education and industry sector, an initiative that has already been taken by both countries needs to be expanded, namely the collaboration in Artificial Intelligence. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar in Punjab is going to set up a collaborative research ecosystem with the National Chung Cheng University (NCCU) of Taiwan and the aim of the centre is to promote student and faculty exchanges, joint project proposals, and development of curriculum for AI-related programs. The research centre will focus on facilitating industry-academia interactions. This cooperation could be expanded as India is looking to cooperate on Artificial Intelligence as  Taiwan has an edge in this field since Microsoft has decided to locate its new AI R&D Center in Taiwan. Taiwan has an edge in this field since Microsoft has decided to locate its new AI R&D Center in Taiwan. 

Another important sector that Taiwan is well poised to collaborate with New Delhi is in promoting manufacturing and infrastructure technology, including hardware aspects of the InfoTech (IT) industry. India could cooperate with Taiwan on 5G technology, in which it has made advances. An important sector for collaboration is with Taiwan is in the manufacture of wafer chips and semiconductor manufacturing.

Time has come India should keep engaging  with Taiwan  as a leverage which will help Taiwan get some footing in the international arena where PRC is trying to isolate it.

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