Whenever India proposes a bill or legislation against Pakistan in any International Forum, China, the all-weather ally of the Islamic Nation, vetoes it. China has proved to be the biggest hurdle for India in isolating Pakistan globally, although the PM completed the task to a large extent despite Beijing’s effort to protect its client state.
But, Beijing’s strategic use of tiny Pakistan (whose economy and population is one-tenth and one-sixth of India respectively) holds a lesson for the Indian government. New Delhi could further the friendship with Taiwan and similarly capitalize the country as China capitalizes on Pakistan.
Taiwan has repeatedly called for and made efforts to have greater ties with India, but the successive Indian governments have remained extremely cautious in dealing Taipei and never accepted its existence as a separate country since the Nehru government fended the diplomatic ties in 1949. Recently, an opinion piece in The Taipei Times called that ‘Taiwan must stand with India and opined that it should “deepen ties with India, in particular economic, military and intelligence ties, to contain Chinese expansionism and put Xi back into his box.”
The intellectual community in India as well as in Taiwan has repeatedly called for closer ties between the two countries. Former diplomats, newspaper editorials, China analysts- all have asked for strategic ties with Taiwan.
The country could help India to corner China in international forums as well as can assist technologically. To reduce dependence on China in the electronics sector, the Modi government is pushing for domestic manufacturing of Semiconductors and these are the areas where a technological superpower like Taiwan can help. Many Taiwanese companies have already announced investments and shifting of the supply chain from China to India.
However, just trade and economic ties are not enough. The Modi government must recognize Taiwan as a separate country and establish an embassy in Taipei. Apart from that, New Delhi must lobby for Taipei’s membership in all global diplomatic, commercial, and strategic bodies. This way, India could have an “all-weather ally” in China’s neighbourhood to counter Chinese use of its client state Pakistan.
The Chinese and Pakistani relationship is not an alliance of equals but Beijing treats Islamabad as a client state because it does not have much to offer in return of Chinese economic and diplomatic favours. On the other hand, India and Taiwan relations would be equal given the fact Taipei has technological assistance and investment to offer to New Delhi in return for access to India’s diplomatic clout and market.
Time has come to dump “one China policy” and capitalize on Taipei’s willingness to ally to be used against Beijing which for long bullied India through Pakistan and continues to do so. Through Taiwan and other allies in the South China Sea, India can ‘contain and encircle’ China in a fashion similar to Beijing’s attempt to create a ‘string of pearls’ by winning over countries in South Asia.
Also, the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs which has MPs from across the political spectrum presented a report on India-China relations a few months after the Doklam incident and argued for a stronger economic, diplomatic, and strategic partnership with Taiwan.
“Given the fact of China’s muscular approach of late, while dealing with some of the issues pertaining to India, it is difficult for the Committee to be content with India continuing with its conventionally deferential foreign policy towards China. Dealing with a country like China essentially requires a flexible approach. The Committee strongly feels that the Government should contemplate using all options including its relations with Taiwan, as part of such an approach,” reads the report by Parliamentary Committee.
Therefore, the time has come for India to shed its reluctance to accept Taiwan as a sovereign nation and lobby for its inclusion in the international community. Once Taiwan becomes a globally accepted entity, New Delhi would have a friend in China’s neighbour through which it can reply to Chinese activities through Pakistan.