Saturday 18th of May 2024

Indo-Taiwan Relations: Convergences Supersedes Minor Divergences
Gaurav Kumar
Region : Asia, South Asia, India, Taiwan Strait,
Issue : Security, Democracy, Politics,
There is a tremendous political and diplomatic clout exercised by China that either influences or shapes the foreign policies of many nations regarding Taiwan. For many experts, the most glaring example of such a leverage exercised by the Chinese is the recent case of Air India, where Air India in order to comply with the Chinese demand to change the name of Taiwan on its website, renamed it as Chinese Taipei. A powerful Airline of a rising global power India allegedly came under the duress of the Chinese is a telltale story of the evolving Chinese policy on Taiwan. India, which sees China as a competitor and the two have not shared a friendly relationship recently, was supposedlyforced to review its policy on Taiwan. On the other hand, India shares excellent historical bilateral relations with Taiwan and has hassle free interaction with the country through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) Taiwan since 1995. Days after the Air India episode, the Taiwan showed their deep disappointed with Air India's decision and had lodged a formal note with Delhi over the move.
Surprisingly, Air India’s move came months after India hosted a Taiwanese parliamentary delegation in New Delhi, amidst diplomatic protest by China over the issue. China considers Taiwan as a breakaway faction of its mainland andobject to any diplomatic relations with Taiwan by countries which shares diplomatic ties with it. India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but maintains a cultural-economic office in Taipei and vice-versa in India with Taiwan.
Areas of Convergences
Does it suggest change in/of India’s policy towards Taiwan? To be fair to Indian government, it has been consistent with its policy on Taiwan, however with some variation here and there. The Ministry of External Affairs had clarified its position on the decision to do so "is entirely consistent with international norms and our own position on Taiwan since 1949" . India considers Taiwan as one of the important elements of its Act East policy and has slowly but successfully built bilateral strategic relations, hand in hand with economic, social and cultural ties. At an event to celebrate the 107th National Day (Double Tenth) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) organised by Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (TECC)Taiwan Ambassador to India Tien Chung-Kwang expected that Taiwan-India relations will gather more strength in the years to come .
India is the farthermost yet a very vital country in the Taiwan president’s New Southbound Policy (NSP)that looks to deepen Taiwan’s regional integration with South Asia, ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand. The most critical component of it is to help Taiwanese businesses seeking to expand their markets in South Asia. In order to achieve its goal, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) opened its fourth office in India. TAITRA also organised Taiwan Expo 2018 in India in May 2018. India has the potential to become major trade and commerce hub under the Indian PM Flagship programme Made in India, and Taiwan can be one of the major players in it. TAITRA’s chairman James Huang rightly claimed that Taiwan is home to the world’s leading information and communication technology, machinery, automobile parts, petrochemical and “green” energy industries, and is a leader in developing technologies for “smart” city solutions . India requires quality expertise in some of these industries including the energy and smart city solutions.
Areas of Concern
One area of concern for Taiwanese investment in India is trouble overcoming India’s market access barriers to the electronic goods sector. High import tariffs, poor infrastructure and centralised decision making as highlighted by European Council’s Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2015 could be a major impediments to its desire to switch tits trade and investment to India from China .Although India has improved a lot since 2015, yet there are many related concerns unresolved.
India and Taiwan relations appear to show resilience amidst global churning. India has kept India-Taiwan relation strictly at bilateral level with no interaction at any multilateral level. It on the other hand has been struggling to maintain good relations with China, particularly after the Doklam Standoff, even after the much hyped Wuhan reset. India till today has successfully been able to bypass the contentious Taiwan issue,and has hardly brought Taiwan factor in its relation with China, the way China would have wanted India to. Therefore it hardly appears that the change of the name has to do with extreme diplomatic pressure from China or at best can be seen as a minor tactical shuffling with its Taiwan policy in order to appease China. The name change, despite the hype doesn’t suggest or hinted of any major shift in its policy, which otherwise would have been evident in India’s policy till now.
The fact that India and Taiwan needs each other the same way China and India needs each other, it will be imprudent on behave of China to push India to a level where it hits its bilateral relation with India negatively. There is no doubt that China has been aggressively pursuing its reunification plan as hinted by President Xi Jinping’s report at the 19th Communist Party congress, still China has to go long way to make it possible as long as world power like the US and rising power like India shares good relation with Taiwan.

End Notes
1. Mohan, Ananth Krishnan Geeta. "Keep Relations with China and Taiwan Separate: Taiwanese Representative Tells India." India Today. July 06, 2018. Accessed

2. Pioneer News Service. "Indo-Taiwan Relations Will Further Blossom: Envoy." The Pioneer. October 12, 2018. Accessed
3. "TAITRA to Open Fourth Office in India next Month."Taipei Times. Accessed
4. Jennings, Ralph. "Taiwan Is Sidestepping China To Bid For India's Tough (But Eager) Market." Forbes. September 09, 2016. Accessed

The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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