India must strengthen its ties with Taiwan
The impact of China’s ratcheting up the tensions is not limited to Taiwan or India; it will have repercussions on the entire Indo-Pacific region. For now, urging China to maintain the status quo and refrain from escalation might suffice, but this situation allows India to rethink the Taiwan policy
During a press briefing on Friday, India’s ministry of external affairs spokesperson responded to China’s unwarranted action against Taiwan in the wake of the United States House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s, visit to Taiwan earlier this month. “India is concerned at the recent developments and we urge the exercise of restraint and avoidance of unilateral actions to change the status quo in the region,” the spokesperson said. This seems to be a policy change as it has not been India’s conventional practice to remark unless there is a direct threat to its security from its neighbourhood.
There is a need for India to do more with Taiwan. India is bound by its problems with China, and is caught between its desire to have manageable ties with China and its compulsion to be firm on the border issue. India-China relations have changed drastically since China’s Galwan incursion in 2020, and nothing indicates that they will return to normalcy soon. Even though the channels of communication are open for a dialogue with China and multilateral cooperation remains unaffected, without achieving a breakthrough in the border dispute and China shelving the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, India is unlikely to keep the dispute on the backburner anymore.
It is also essential to recall that since 2010, India has stopped mentioning the One China Policy and has urged China to uphold the One India Policy. But interestingly, even while adhering to the One China Policy in joint statements till 2008, India never acknowledged Taiwan as a part of China — a fact that remains underappreciated.
While India has a policy of refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, it is also becoming evident that India doesn’t consider Taiwan China’s internal matter.
China is less likely to consider the territorial concerns of other nations, especially India’s, as it gets ready for the 20th Party Congress later this year. China continues to build infrastructure near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). There is a striking similarity between China’s activities along the LAC and its military operations in the Taiwan Strait.
Even after the four-day drill, China is continuing military exercises around Taiwan. A similar approach has been adopted against India. Post-Galwan clashes, China continued building infrastructure near the LAC. This is China’s way of normalising its aggression, escalation and violating the sovereignty of other countries.
The impact of China’s ratcheting up the tensions is not limited to Taiwan or India; it will have repercussions on the entire Indo-Pacific region. For now, urging China to maintain the status quo and refrain from escalation might suffice, but this situation allows India to rethink the Taiwan policy and work on it — not for poking China, but for its interests and normative concerns.
As a democratic country, India should consider building ties with Taiwan, a fellow democracy. The China-Taiwan tension will impact the Indo-Pacific strategic dynamics and India’s politico-military interests and goals. As a significant rising power, it is in India’s interest to prepare to prevent a Taiwan contingency and have a response that aligns with its values and interests in the Indo-Pacific.
Sana Hashmi is post-doctoral fellow, Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation. The views expressed are personal