Tit For Tat: India could do to China with Taiwan what China did to India using Pakistan

Tit For Tat: India could do to China with Taiwan what China did to India using Pakistan

Citizens of  India have extended their gratitude to Taiwan as it marks Double Ten National Day today. As an independent nation, the prosperity and development of Taiwan should be met with corresponding treatment in the international community, people wrote on various social media platforms

The posts were made as Taipei accused China of trying to impose censorship after Beijing’s embassy in New Delhi advised journalists in India to observe the “one China” principle. Indian newspapers have printed advertisements for Double Ten National Day, which prompted the embassy’s message on Wednesday.

There is only one China in the world, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China,” the embassy wrote in an e-mail.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” it added. Coming just months after deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese troops on a disputed part of the Himalayan border between the two Asian giants, the controversy has flared as Indian sentiment toward China has worsened.

After the e-mail circulated, several Indian media workers, including Sidhant Sibal of the World is One News English-language television channel and independent journalist Aditya Raj Kaul posted its contents on Twitter.

They asked if the embassy was “indirectly threatening Indian media that reported Taiwan.”

Comments on the posts accused China of interfering in other nations’ politics through infiltration and intimidation and seeking to silence opposing voices.

Recently, there has been an increasing fervor within the strategic communities on both sides to situate Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy within India’s “Act East” and vice versa. While this can provide an overarching framework for India-Taiwan economic ties, the true potential of the relationship can be realized at the meta-level by leveraging the existing complementarities between the economic policy formulations of the two sides. This approach can also partially offset the opportunity cost of the delays in inking a big-ticket free trade-like agreement, which remains mired in bureaucratic processes. At the very outset, India-Taiwan economic relations can encompass a wide array of fields, including trade, investment, tourism, and education.

As a world-recognized leader in high-end technology, Taiwan can be a natural partner in “Make in India” and thereby an integral component of India’s journey toward realizing an AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).

Foxconn has emerged as the poster boy for “Make in India” with its investments in the Indian smartphone manufacturing sector. Such investments also tie in neatly with India’s National Electronic Policy-2019, which aims to achieve the target of zero net imports in the electronics sector. Further, with a proven track record in delivering quality digital services, Taiwan has a strong case to participate in the Digital India initiative

Under the current global headwinds, which require shifting of production facilities from China, India can emerge as the top destination for Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. Another area with ample opportunities for India-Taiwan collaboration is the agriculture and food processing sector. This sector is one of the top priorities of the present dispensation in India, and the recent passage of the Farm Bills is a step toward advancing this mission.

Furthermore, the two areas that allow both sides to realize the twin objectives of enhanced economic partnership and people-to-people connections are education and tourism. The education sector in particular can be leveraged by Taiwan to enhance its soft power appeal among the Indian youth by tapping into the burgeoning demand for Mandarin. In addition to increasing the number of existing scholarships, this can be achieved by entering into academic partnerships with Indian universities and major think tanks.

With regards to Tourism, it would not be far-fetched to state that this remains one of the most under-utilized dimensions of India-Taiwan relations. While both sides have dedicated tourism promotion programs, and India has extended e-visa facilities for those traveling from Taiwan for tourism, informal business trips, or short medical visits, there exists general ignorance in this regard. Taiwan and India are not recognized as tourism destinations either in each other’s public consciousness, or popular imagery.

One potential way to address this knowledge deficit and encourage mutual tourism is to use the popularity of Indian cinema on both sides. Taiwan can provide opportunities and incentives to Bollywood to shoot its movies here. Indian cinema is best placed to kindle popular interest in both cultures, cuisines, and landscapes. Additionally, the popularity of yoga and Buddhism in Taiwan can be utilized by the two sides to deepen people-to-people contacts.

Taiwan can also be an ideal destination for the Indian pharma industry and young professionals. The Indian leadership in producing generic medicines can help bring down the cost of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program. The two sides should conduct feasibility studies in this regard.

To realize the aforementioned objectives, it would be extremely useful for the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce to engage with the Indian Chamber of Commerce and facilitate direct communication channels between Indian and Taiwanese businesses. To overcome the issues of cultural differences and differing business environments, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council can organize events in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Some of these programs should be designed to specifically understand and help advance the start-up ecosystem in India. These are just a few examples where Taiwan and India can deepen their economic engagement. The field remains extremely vast and should be explored.

The India-Taiwan relationship is one of the immense opportunities and unbridled possibilities. Yet, it is also a relationship of unrealized potential. It is time for the two sides to change this narrative and the year 2020 seems to be the one.