You can command people to do something but can’t buy their loyalty. The only way to do it is through using soft power. Interestingly, Taiwan has leveraged it in such a way that it is more effective than its hard power. Let’s see what India can learn from it.
US’ dependence on Taiwan
Nancy Pelosi has left Taiwan unscathed. With her, 23.5 million Taiwanese are by and large safe as well. People are busy analysing military manoeuvring by both the USA and China for the same, but very few people have talked about how Taiwan has monkey-balanced its interests with both countries.
Semiconductor is the backbone of Taiwan’s security interests. No, we are not talking about the supply chain security of its electronics, instead, it plays a key role in its sovereign security apparatus as well. China and USA heavily rely on Taiwan for electronics manufacturing. Talking about Uncle Sam, America only produces 12 per cent of its total chips requirement. For the remaining 88 per cent, it is heavily dependent on Asia, especially Taiwan.
US can’t do away without Taiwan’s Chips
America is trying to change that through its CHIPS act, but it can’t do away with Taiwanese dependence. One of those companies which are establishing chip fabrication plants in the USA is TSMC, a Taiwanese chip major. TSMC alone accounts for more than half of semiconductors produced in the world.
Additionally, even if the CHIPS Act bears fruit, it is very difficult to reduce dependency on Taiwan for high-quality Chips. 92 per cent of most advanced semiconductors are produced by Taiwan alone. These chips are crucial and going to dominate the defence related aspects of semiconductors. In other words, the military-industrial complex, often termed as Deep State or Permanent Washington, needs Taiwan.
China also relies on Taiwan
While, in return for semiconductors, the US provides a certain degree of security to Taiwan, it is also true that Taiwan has not hesitated from providing chips to China as well. China accounts for more than 60 per cent of global semiconductor demand, 90 per cent of which is made through imports.
Though China has tried to increase its local semiconductor manufacturing, billions of dollars have mostly gone waste due to a lack of talent and Jinping’s crackdown on financial oligarchs. Semiconductors are a big reason why Taiwan has kept China hooked on it. On the other hand, by keeping the US dependent on it, it has been able to save its democracy from Chinese onslaught.
With increased income from sale of semiconductors, Taiwan has also harped on dissociating its identity from China. While the whole world was busy cursing China for CoronaVirus, Taiwan jumped in with its medical devices, masks and other similar aid.
The initiative resulted in increasing goodwill and effectively communicated to global leaders that they need to have a separate policy for Taiwan and not look at it as a tool for countering China. And the world soon obliged. In spite of being officially recognised as an independent country by 13 nations only, countries like the USA, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia among others helped Taiwan with millions of doses of vaccines.
Southbound Foreign Policy of Taiwan
Moreover, Taiwan is also increasing its visibility by participating in other initiatives such as study programs, medical training, development assistance and tourism promotion. These efforts are part of its 2016 Southbound Policy. The policy aims to increase cooperation and exchange between Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia.
Additionally, Taiwan is also increasing funding for Taiwan-centred programs at renowned U.S. institutions like Harvard University, University of California, Los Angeles and University of Texas among others. Apparently, enlightening young minds is a sure-shot way of increasing soft power and its return on investment (ROI) is extremely high.
India needs to emulate
India is not much different from Taiwan. Like Taipei, it is also looking to expand its footprints. Like Taiwan has semiconductors, India has a whole lot of other products like foodgrains, software development, medicines, defence manufacturing, crucial supply chains among others. In recent years, India has used these capacities to turn things around, but it is still a long way to go.
For India, securing its borders is not enough. It does have its historical legacies to sort out and for this reason converting soft power into hard one gets more important for India.
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