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Delhi and Taipei (Taiwan), just friends

  • Published
    14th Aug, 2023

Context:  

The recent visit of three retired Indian service chiefs to Taipei has sparked media speculation about India's stance and potential actions in the event of a military operation by Beijing to reunify Taiwan with mainland China.

Background and Position of Taiwan in World Order

  • Establishment of Taiwan: In 1912, following the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China (Taiwan) was established, led by the Kuomintang (KMT).
  • Civil War and the Retreat to Taiwan: After the 1949 civil war, the CCP under Mao Zedong took mainland control, and the defeated RoC government, led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated to Taiwan.
  • Taiwan's International Status and the "One China" Policy: Initially in the UN, the RoC lost its seat to the PRC in 1971, with the US maintaining strategic ambiguity since then. The 1972 "Shanghai Communique" acknowledged "one China," with Taiwan as part of it.

India’s relationship with the RoC 

  • Chiang Kai-shek's Visit and India's Support: During WWII, Chiang Kai-shek's visit to Ramgarh and his address to the Indian National Congress marked a significant moment of support. He also conveyed the cause of India's freedom to Roosevelt.
  • India's Shifting Approach to the PRC: India recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1950 and upheld a "one China" policy. In 1995, trade and cultural ties were established, and diplomatic representatives were posted. There's also a convergence of interest on the Indo-Pacific strategy due to shared concerns about the PRC's expansionist behavior.
  • Mutual Interests and Benefits: India and the Republic of China (RoC) have mutual interests, including military intelligence exchange and RoC's semiconductor expertise, fostering a strong partnership.

Way forward

  • Caution in Emerging Relationship: As the three former chiefs offer recommendations to the government, New Delhi must exercise caution and skepticism due to historical factors.
  • RoC's Controversial Stances: RoC has controversially originated the 9-Dash Line in the South China Sea and rejected the McMahon Line, asserting that "Southern Tibet" belongs to China.
  • Common Interests and Strategic Benefits: New Delhi and Taipei share a mutual interest in countering China's South China Sea claims. This partnership can reinforce Taiwan's identity, ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea (critical for India's trade), and support India's oil and gas exploration activities in the region.
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