Since international media is putting on a lot of importance to subjects like the QUAD alliance and the New cold war, Taiwan is also attaining importance. Some analysts also suggest countries should enhance diplomatic relations with Taiwan to counter Chinese regional dominance. India following ‘one china policy’ does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign nation. The USA a major supporter of Taiwan also does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Even China is so aggressive about the Taiwan issue that in May 2021 Chinese state media Global Times threatened Australia with missile strikes regarding Australia’s interference in the Taiwan issue. On several occasions, China has warned India to stay clear of the Taiwan issue.
Taiwan is a tiny island located southeast of China. The government of Taiwan call the island a “republic of China” it also alleged the communist party of China for the forceful occupation of China mainland. Until 1927, the government of China was run jointly by the Chinese nationalist party and the Chinese communist party. But after a split, the Chinese nationalist party (KMT) expelled the communist party and oppressed the communist party leaders. After the end of the civil war in 1949, the communist party emerged victoriously and the KMT party was expelled to Taiwan island where they established their government at the island. Because of the US military support communist couldn’t annex Taiwan ( Republic of China). Since then the govt of the ‘Republic of China’ has been ruling the island from the capital Taipei and mainland China is claimed by both Taiwan led china as well as communist China. Until 1971 Taiwan led china was the official representative of China at the united nations, but the “UNGA resolution 2758” transferred this right to communist china because of improving relation of Beijing with the rest of the world. The USA also got inclined towards China when in 1969 china-USSR war broke out and the US got to see a viable partner to counter the soviet union.
In 1979, the US recognised Beijing based “the people’s republic of China” (PRC) and withdrew recognition of Taiwan. the US wanted both countries to get recognition as separate countries with different identities. But neither of the two countries were ready to accept this. The increasing influence of communist china has almost isolated Taiwan and currently, only 23 small countries from the Pacific, Africa, and Latin America remember diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Also today the USA is the biggest partner of Taiwan, this support of the US was a strategic decision of the USA to strengthen its bargaining power against China.
India officially recognised communist china right after the civil war in China in 1950. India became the second state after Myanmar to do so. This decision was on faith that Beijing can become India’s partner. This policy was based on a dictum that PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee used in his speeches, “you can change friends not neighbours”. This froze India-Taiwan relations during the whole cold war. But after the 1962 sino-India war, India lost initial hopes of good relations with its largest neighbour and became sceptical towards china. After the collapse of the soviet union in 1991, India adopted the ‘look east policy’ seeking improved relations with east Asian countries. This policy gave a diplomatic push to India-Taiwan relations and in 1995 established complementary representative offices, It’s an informal diplomatic relation with Taiwan maintained by the India-Taipei association (in Taipei ) and the ‘Taipei Economic and cultural centre’ (in India). In 2002 India and Taiwan signed a ‘bilateral investment agreement’ and started direct air connectivity in 2003. The then defence minister, George Fernandez also visited Taiwan in 2007. In 2010, reciprocating China’s adverse attitude towards Kashmir, India asked China to acknowledge the” one India policy” after this the informal visits between India and Taiwan became formal. In 2010 Taiwan also hosted then Indian president APJ Abdul kalam in their country. The “southbound policy (2016)” Taiwan emphasised good relations with ASEAN and South Asian countries. After Galwan crisis, India’s relation with Taiwan improved considerably and India appointed Gourangalal Das as envoy in Taipei.
Strategic importance of Taiwan
The geographical location of Taiwan is the most important aspect of geopolitics around it. This can be proved very important for an alliance such as QUAD in near future. ‘Sana Hashmi’, a researcher in the institute of international relations of Taipei recommends stronger relations of India and Taiwan and also highlights its importance in India’s indo-pacific strategy. Donald Trump reinforced his security commitments by increasing the frequency of naval ships in the Taiwan Strait. The second factor of Taiwan’s strategic importance is the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue for china. China’s response is always aggressive when any country tries to indulge in the Taiwan issue. As against india who always followed one china policy, china did not honour one india policy on Kashmir and always supported Pakistan and in the same way, india can make use of Taiwan.
Economic ties between India and Taiwan
According to ‘The Diplomat’ economic dimension is the most important aspect of india-Taiwan relations. During the 2002-2014 period, Taiwan invested 66 million dollars in india but in 2015 the total investment increased rapidly. Taiwanese company Foxconn has invested 5 billion dollars in India. The india-Taiwan bilateral trade was nearly 6 billion dollars in 2016. Taiwan has also been playing significant roles in India’s semiconductors, electronics, and communication industries. Taiwan can also be a good option for countries such as the USA, Japan and South Korea for diversifying crucial supply chains networks and for reducing dependence on China. Despite its tiny size, the economy of Taiwan is 600 billion dollars which is double of Pakistan’s economy. Indian parliamentary standing committee on india-china relations in its report in 2018 has also advocated for stronger Indian-Taiwan bilateral ties.
Now the question arises should India recognise the sovereignty of Taiwan? Seeing the current aggressive behaviour of China on the Taiwan issue, Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan of ORF opines that India perhaps will take more time to recognise Taiwan as an independent country.