India is playing with fire and will suffer losses by challenging the one-China policy and increasing engagement with Taiwan, the nationalistic tabloid Global Times said on Wednesday.
Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province which could be reunited by force if necessary.
India doesn’t maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, an island off the southeastern coast of China, that follows democracy and has a free press.
A rare women’s parliamentary delegation from Taiwan began an India visit on Monday, a possible sign that both countries are attempting to increase political engagement without New Delhi changing its “one-China” policy.
It did not go unnoticed by China and its state-run media.
“At a time when new US President Donald Trump has put the brakes on challenging China over the Taiwan question, agreeing to change course and respecting the one-China policy, India stands out as a provocateur,” it said.
“Some Indians view the Taiwan question as an Achilles’ Heel of the mainland. India has long wanted to use the Taiwan question, the South China Sea and Dalai Lama issues as bargaining chips in dealing with China,” writer Yu Ning wrote in an opinion piece for the newspaper, known to publish critical pieces on India and its policies.
“By challenging China over the Taiwan question, India is playing with fire,” Yu wrote.
Why is India doing this? Yu argued that one reason was India’s unease with President Xi Jinping’s belt and road initiative (BRI).
“With the advancement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in recent years, India’s strategic suspicions about China have been growing. It stubbornly misinterprets the flagship project of the One Belt, One Road Initiative that will benefit countries along the route, including India,” Yu wrote.
“As the corridor passes through the disputed Kashmir, some Indian strategists have advised the 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’,” the article said.
The newspaper also blamed Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen for inciting India.
“Tsai is exploiting India’s vigilance and strategic suspicions against China. The pro-independence leader came up with the ‘new southbound policy’ to ramp up trade and economic interactions in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Oceania, in which India is considered ‘not one of the, but the most’ important country…Tsai hopes to put pressure on the mainland by tying India and Taiwan closer.”
Yu argued that India wants to benefit from trade with and investment from Taiwan but should be wary about Tsai’s “political intentions and avoid being used to confront the mainland”.
The best way for India, Yu said was to join the BRI to attract more investment from China. Or suffer.
“The best way for India to develop is by participating in the BRI and attract more investments from the mainland. Pro-independence forces in Taiwan have become more isolated in the world. Those who want to use the Taiwan question to contain the mainland will have to suffer losses.”