“Love amidst Corona,” the secret love affair of India and Taiwan and why it matters

India, Taiwan, China, Tsai Ing-wen, Modi, Taiwan National Day

(PC: Taiwan News)

The 109th National Day of Taiwan was all about the blossoming Indo-Taiwanese ties despite Beijing’s objections to the growing proximity between India and Taiwan. There are several signals coming from Taiwan’s top leadership and India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which make it clear that New Delhi and Taipei are coming much closer to each other.

India and Taiwan might share an unofficial relationship. But the way India and Taiwan have come closer shows that the two nations are preparing for a giant leap in bilateral ties. New Delhi itself seems to have used Taiwan’s National Day for swinging its diplomatic line. India is fast-moving from being a country that used to care about Beijing’s sensitivities to one which no longer finds it necessary to reiterate the ‘One China Principle’.

That Taiwan has used the occasion of its National Day to warm up to India becomes clear from what Lai Ching-te, the Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has to say. He tweeted, “Proud to see our flag fly high and be recognized all over the world. We thank the people from so many countries who today expressed congratulations and support. Especially our Indian friends. Namaste! #TaiwanNationalDay #JaiHind #MilkTeaAlliance.”

Another top Taiwanese leader, Wang Ting-yu, Co-chair of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taiwan’s Parliament tweeted, “Thank you to our Indian friends for the kind wishes! The people of Taiwan admire your spirit, your fearlessness and your determination to stand up for what is right.”

And it isn’t as if Taiwanese leaders are rallying behind India for no reason. India might not have opened up top-level exchanges with Taiwan as of yet. But New Delhi has certainly taken the hints coming from Taipei such as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s gesture of wishing India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on his birthday earlier this year. India has responded with gestures from its own end.

Therefore, when the Chinese embassy shot a letter to Indian media and called upon it to not refer to Taiwan as a “nation” and also follow the “One China” policy ahead of Taiwan’s National Day, the people of India literally poked the paper Dragon in the eye.

On the occasion of Taiwan’s National Day, China woke up to an even bigger shock. Posters wishing Taiwan a happy National Day were spotted outside the Chinese Embassy and also across the high security diplomatic area of Chanakyapuri, New Delhi by ruling BJP’s leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga. This is where most of the Embassies and High Commissions are located in New Delhi. In New Delhi, India is letting the world know that it stands up for Taiwan.

By the end of the day, National Taiwan Day became the top trend in India with several Indian nationals, politicians and journalists wishing the Island nation on its 109th National Day.

The growing Indo-Taiwanese relationship is increasingly becoming a strategic vantage point for both the nations against China. Therefore, Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF) and India’s National Maritime Foundation (NMF) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday just a couple of days before the National Day of Taiwan. The MoU sought to deepen Indo-Taiwanese cooperation in maritime affairs and regional development.

India is therefore certainly moving a lot closer to Taiwan, which is why New Delhi has been looking to dilute the ‘One China Principle’ in a subtle away, rather than reaffirming it as per Beijing’s wishes. This could as well form the launchpad for recognising Taiwan in the background of deteriorating ties between India and the People’s Republic of China.

In fact, India has been dropping hints of forging closer ties with Taiwan for the past few months. When Tsai Ing-wen won a second consecutive Presidential term recently, two BJP MPs, Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan attended her swearing-in ceremony. Taipei itself has been looking to strengthen ties with India. Recently, world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer, the Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn announced that the company is planning “further investments” in India.

Such Taiwanese initiatives are, of course, a deliberate attempt to irk China. Taiwan has a lot to gain out of India from forming a shared interest to keep Chinese military expansionism at bay to gaining greater recognition at intergovernmental and multilateral bodies like the World Health Organisation (WHO). New Delhi itself wants to weigh down Beijing in every possible way and therefore Taiwan has to be at the centre of India’s scheme of things.

The Communist Chinese Party (CCP) itself understands the perils of Indo-Taiwanese friendship and therefore it has once again pressed its mouthpiece, Global Times into service. Irked by the proximity between New Delhi and Taipei, the CCP mouthpiece tweeted, “Hanging up posters arranged by India BJP leader celebrating the “national day” of Taiwan island outside Chinese Embassy in New Delhi is an act of playing with fire, and will only worsen the already soured China-India ties.”

But here is the real deal. India has stopped caring about the People’s Republic of China or its never-ending sensitivities. New Delhi has no qualms about standing up for the cause of Taiwanese independence and recognition. Beijing will have to wake up to the harsh reality of its arch-foes, India and Taiwan befriending each other in face of paper Dragon’s endless threats and objections.

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