India is about to solve one of the biggest mysteries befuddling China. Given the enthusiasm shown by the Indian media and even the populace at large towards Taipei during Taiwan’s National Day, Beijing has been wondering why the people of India tend to support Taiwan. China says that when New Delhi still observes the ‘One China’ policy, Indians don’t have a right to support Taiwan. So, there you go China- the Government of India is now itself looking to make a mockery of the ‘One China’ policy.
According to a latest Bloomberg report, support is growing within the Indian government for starting trade deal talks with Taiwan. The latest move is all the more significant since it comes at a time when India is locked in a military standoff with China and Chinese investments in India are going down drastically. Moreover, Taiwan is facing relentless aggression from the paper dragon and in that sense, India is setting a precedent for others when it comes to pushing the island nation of Taiwan towards recognition.
It is going to be a major departure in India’s foreign policy if New Delhi actually starts trade deal talks with Taiwan. Bloomberg claims that a senior Indian official said that Taiwan has been looking for trade talks with India for several years, but the Indian government avoided moving ahead in order to avoid a messy fight with China once an Indo-Taiwan pact gets registered at the World Trade Organisation.
However, India no longer seems to care about China’s sentiments. The paper dragon has annoyed New Delhi with its bellicose moves at the Line of Actual Control- the de facto India-Tibet border in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
Bloomberg has reported that the Indian official speaking on the condition of anonymity has also said that over the past few months, those who want to start trade talks with Taiwan are getting the upper hand.
According to the official, a trade deal with Taiwan would help India secure greater investments in technology and electronics, yet it remains unclear when a final decision would be made on starting Indo-Taiwanese trade talks. Therefore, while Chinese Foreign Direct Investment nosedives towards a perfect-zero, India is going to bring in Taiwanese investments. The message from New Delhi is- Taiwan in, China out.
And at an economic level, the process of replacing China with Taiwan has already started. Earlier this month, the Indian government gave approval to Taiwanese firms- Foxconn Technology Group, Wistron Corp. and Pegatron Corp., as a part of PM Modi’s ambition to attract investments worth 10.5 trillion rupees, which is equivalent to $143 billion, in the smartphones manufacturing sector over the next five years.
India and Taiwan had also signed an investment agreement in 2018, in a bid to expand economic ties. Indo-Taiwan trade has also been growing significantly. And in 2019, bilateral trade went up by 18 per cent to $7.2 billion. However, a trade deal would usher in a completely new era in Indo-Taiwan relations.
New Delhi has actually given quite a jolt to China here. Beijing was always worried about Taiwan warming up to India and actually finding adequate diplomatic leverage in New Delhi. China has been amassing its military troops and assets against both India and Taiwan, and therefore the possibility of Indian and Taiwanese governments coming closer was always very real.
Therefore, ahead of Taiwan’s 109th National Day on October 10, the Chinese Embassy asked Indian media not to go against the ‘One China’ principle and refrain from describing Taiwan as a “nation”. This was one of the several ‘One China’ warnings that Beijing has issued to Indian media this year. However, the Indian media kept giving space to Taiwan in its reportage, much to the paper dragon’s chagrin.
Taiwan’s National Day actually became a red-letter day in Indo-Taiwanese relations, as support poured in for Taiwan on Indian mainstream and social media. Posters wishing Taiwan a happy National Day were spotted outside the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. The posters were put up by a ruling Bhartiya Janta Party’s leader Tajinder Bagga. Taiwan’s pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen has herself become a cult figure in India.
The Tsai Ing-wen administration itself has very high hopes from New Delhi and has been making every possible attempt to win India’s support.
#Taiwan is lucky to be home to many Indian restaurants, & Taiwanese people love them. I always go for chana masala and naan, while #chai always takes me back to my travels in #India, and memories of a vibrant, diverse & colourful country. What are your favourite Indian dishes? pic.twitter.com/IJbf5yZFLY
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) October 15, 2020
As such Taiwan and India have both understood that their mutual association annoys China, and therefore it was only a matter of time before Taipei and New Delhi started making their ties more formal. China desperately wanted to avoid such an awkward diplomatic position, and Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times went as far as threating to fan separatism in India, in case New Delhi played the Taiwan ‘card’.
Nevertheless, India seems ready to dilute the ‘One China’ policy by fostering closer economic relations with Taiwan. India is looking to enhance its trade ties with Taiwan, give the island nation an even bigger role in the world economy and ultimately create a case for recognition of the independent island nation of Taiwan. And the biggest casualty is going to be Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy.