India’s soft power is proving too hot to handle for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). And most worryingly for Beijing, it goes as far as Taiwan (Republic of China) – a tiny island country located in the Western Pacific which the PRC doesn’t want the world to recognise. China’s Indo-Taiwanese friendship nightmares are now turning true, even as Taipei focusses all its energies to win over India on the National Day of Taiwan.
It all started with China’s attempt to force India into accepting the ‘One China Principle’. Ahead of the National Day of Taiwan, the Chinese Embassy in India said it “would like to remind our media friends that there is only one China in the world, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China”. China’s threat evoked a powerful riposte from Taiwan and Taipei has since been focussing on winning over India much to the PRC’s chagrin.
Immediately after China’s threat to Indian media, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted, “India is the largest democracy on Earth with a vibrant press & freedom-loving people. But it looks like communist #China is hoping to march into the subcontinent by imposing censorship. #Taiwan’sFlag of Taiwan Indian friends will have one reply: GET LOST! JW.”
#India🇮🇳 is the largest democracy on Earth with a vibrant press & freedom-loving people. But it looks like communist #China is hoping to march into the subcontinent by imposing censorship. #Taiwan's🇹🇼 Indian friends will have one reply: GET LOST! JW https://t.co/XxkSSxj5ms
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) October 7, 2020
On Friday- a day before its National Day, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs came up with yet another incisive tweet. It stated, “So many friends from India are ready to join in celebrating Taiwan National Day. Our hearts are touched in Taiwan by this wonderful support. Thank you! When I say I like India, I really mean it. “Get Lost” Minister JW.”
So many friends from #India🇮🇳 are ready to join in celebrating #TaiwanNationalDay🇹🇼. Our hearts are touched in #Taiwan by this wonderful support. Thank you! When I say I like India, I really mean it. "Get Lost" Minister JW pic.twitter.com/4UbKyz6qXK
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) October 9, 2020
And even before the ongoing PRC-Taiwan standoff over the National Day of Taiwan, Taipei was looking to forge closer ties with India. Even on Prime Minister Modi’s birthday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen had tweeted, “Happy birthday to prime minister of India @narendramodi . Wishing you good health, happiness, & continued success in your leadership of the great nation of India.”
However, the Union Government chose to play safe and didn’t reply to the message, though it was always an option to exchange courtesies and poke the paper Dragon in the eye. Nevertheless, Taiwan seems keen to make India a part of the Milk Tea Alliance– an online democratic solidarity movement run by internet users from Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Happy birthday to prime minister of India @narendramodi. Wishing you good health, happiness, & continued success in your leadership of the great nation of India.
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) September 18, 2020
— Taiwan News (@TaiwanNews886) June 24, 2020
Taiwan’s overtures to India are the PRC’s biggest nightmare coming true. For Taiwan, there is a lot to accept out of New Delhi, which has hosted Tibetan refugees for decades and is today showing the intent to stand up against China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. Taiwan would feel that if India can advance the Tibetan cause, then it can also stand up strongly for the cause of formalising Taiwan’s independent existence.
After all, Taiwan is the real China. Till the late 1970s, the world was still befuddled about who is true China- the People’s Republic of China or the Republic of China? Former US President Jimmy Carter made a mistake in late 1978 and recognised the PRC, while severing ties with Taiwan. This led to almost the entire world recognising the PRC as true China. But now there is no reason why Taiwan should be denied separate recognition.
In fact, Taiwan has been using the Tibet connection to irk the paper Dragon even more. Earlier this year, the Dalai Lama sent a birthday message to his Taiwanese supporters. The Buddhist leader said, “As the political scenario changes, it may be that I’ll be able to visit you in Taiwan again. I hope so. Whatever happens I’ll remain with you in spirit.”
The Dalai Lama’s remarks were well-received and Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joanne Ou had said, “We will, in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and at a time of convenience for both sides, welcome the Dalai Lama to come to Taiwan again to propagate Buddhist teachings.”
And as such India has started gauging Taiwan’s signals. First, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took a jibe at the PRC over its threats ahead of the National Day of Taiwan. MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “There is a free media in India that reports on issues as it sees fit.”
On the occasion of Taiwan’s National Day, China woke up to an even bigger shock. Posters wishing Taiwan a happy National Day were spotted outside the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. The posters were put up by the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party’s leader Tajinder Bagga. India has thus hit back at China, despite the latter’s threats.
And posters wishing Taiwan have been put up not only outside China’s Embassy but also all across the high security diplomatic area of Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. This is where most of the Embassies and High Commissions are located in New Delhi. In New Delhi, India is letting the world know that it stands up for Taiwan.
Massive embarrassment for #China in #India. Posters not just outside Embassy of China in New Delhi but also across high security diplomatic area of Chanakyapuri wishing #Taiwan a Happy National Day. Longer video. Many have advocated Shantipath to be renamed as Dalai Lama Path. pic.twitter.com/JJ2IjBf4ZZ
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 9, 2020
#BREAKING: Posters wishing #Taiwan a happy National Day come up outside Embassy of #China in New Delhi, India. Posters put by India’s ruling party BJP leader @tajinderbagga. Chinese embassy had earlier threatened Indian media with a diktat to not cover National Day. @MOFA_Taiwan pic.twitter.com/VNpUl4rG1x
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 9, 2020
Taiwan is itself elated by the posters. Wang Ting-yu, Co-chair of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taiwan’s Parliament tweeted, “Thank you to our Indian friends for the kind wishes! The people of Taiwan admire your spirit, your fearlessness and your determination to stand up for what is right.”
Thank you to our Indian friends for the kind wishes! The people of Taiwan admire your spirit, your fearlessness and your determination to stand up for what is right. 🇹🇼🇮🇳 https://t.co/GfOGrC9qKg
— 王定宇 Wang Ting-yu MP 🇹🇼 (@MPWangTingyu) October 10, 2020
The PRC’s attempt to threaten Indian media is turning out to be a massive self-goal. Taipei grabbed the opportunity with both hands and warmed up to India. Beijing has therefore unwittingly opened up a new front against itself as India and Taiwan join hands to take on the paper Dragon.