The era of a bipolar world was over with the decline of the Soviet Union. Though, it looks as if China is set to challenge US’s hegemony, but, the US is likely to cede space to China on the eve of 2030. But, courtesy India, China won’t be able to take up the space occupied by the US at the current juncture in time. In the wake of the Taiwan crisis, let’s look at the leverages India has against China.
Shashi Tharoor’s wise words on Taiwan
Recently, Shashi Tharoor came up with the idea that India should play Taiwan Card against China. Though, he put a caveat on it by stating that India should do it only in case China misbehaves. Tharoor said that India should be prepared for sending a high-level delegation like that of the US to Taiwan.
Stating that the External Affairs Ministry should judiciously use this card, Tharoor said, “If at all China misbehaves with us, this is one of the cards we can also play to show that we are ready to upgrade our level of contact with Taiwan. The [external affairs] ministry should choose an appropriate time to play that card. Once you play the card, you can’t play it anymore,”
Benefits of getting Taiwan on board
8 years ago, Tharoor’s suggestions would have been termed extraterrestrial by realists. But, the India of 2022 can easily do it. In fact, it will be an effective counter to China’s support for Pak-based infiltrators in Kashmir. And unlike China, which has absolutely zero core gains from Kashmir, India has a lot to gain from Taiwan.
The Taiwanese have work ethics that is on par with the Japanese. In spite of so much political, geographical, and strategic constraints, the island nation is a global leader in Chip manufacturing and the second largest manufacturer of IT hardware. India has been alert enough about increasing its ties with Taiwan, especially the economic ones.
While, in 2000, India-Taiwan trade was only worth $1 billion, it clocked $7.5 billion in 2019. Between 2017-18 and 2018-19, Taiwanese FDI in India went up by 10 folds. According to a March 2021 report, nearly 200 Taiwanese companies were operating in India. They are scattered in fields like electronics, construction, petrochemicals, machines, Information and Communications Technology, and auto parts operation.
With the Free Trade Agreement Negotiations going on, a good chunk of Taiwanese semiconductor capacity is expected to shift to India. All India needs is to establish a diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and China will get mad, especially since no one cares about it in the South China Sea.
Chinese expansionist wings are spread in the economic domain as well. Countries are now realizing what the Chinese debt trap looks like. Here too, India is emerging as a saviour. Currently, India has extended this facility to a total of 65 countries through the Exim Bank of India. India has allocated a total of $ 30.59 billion to various countries. A big chunk of these countries are also facing a lurking threat of China’s debt-trap diplomacy.
These countries include BRI-mired African nations like Ethiopia, the Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zambia, Kenya, Cameroon, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire. Over 50 per cent of India’s LOCs have been extended to Asian Countries. These countries include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, Maldives, Myanmar, and Seychelles.
Countries under BRI hoping on India for financial assistance are a remarkable indication of the fall of BRI. Here too, India is well-prepared to replace it. In fact, INSTC has already started its job. INSTC has brought down the carriage cost by more than 30 per cent while the transit time has been reduced to 20 days, which was 40 days earlier.
India and Russia are two broad ends of this route. Both countries have set the target for increasing their bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025. 13 countries falling en route INSTC are also set to increase multilateral trade in multiple proportions. One of them is Iran, and INSTC is the key to getting Iran on India’s side.
In Galwan, India has already shown China that its PLA is no match for Indians. Similar damages have been inflicted on economic and strategic fronts as well. Jinping administration has lost majorly on most of the issues. Taiwan is the last issue of prestige left for China and now the USA has poked a hole in it as well. China should remain more alert when it comes to engaging with India.
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