TAIWAN … India weighing need to open trade talks with Taiwan despite Chinese diktats


NEWS TAIWAN INDIA

NEW DELHI: After years of dithering, India is ready to take a few steps forward in giving a tit-for-tat to Chinese scheming against it at diplomatic and other levels. Reports are that the Union Government is planning to formally start talks on finalising a trade deal with Taiwan. 

This, in the face of diktats from Beijing that all nations must keep their hands off this breakaway republic, styled as the Republic of China, and an eyesore to Beijing for long.

Taiwan has been seeking trade talks with India and several other nations over the years, but India avoided antagonising China also out of a concern that this could pose complications at the World Trade Organization.

A trade deal with Taiwan would help India’s goal of seeking greater investments in technology and electronics in which Taiwan had a head-start due to its close ties with the US.

Earlier this month, the Centre gave its nod for pacts with firms including Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp as PM Narendra Modi is looking to attract investment worth more than 10.5 trillion rupees ($143 billion) for smartphone production over five years, the reports noted.

Like most countries, India doesn’t formally recognize Taiwan, but the two governments maintain unofficial diplomatic missions in the form of “representative offices.”

in 2018, India and Taiwan  signed an updated bilateral investment agreement in a bid to further expand economic ties. Trade between them grew 18 per cent to $7.2 billion in 2019, according to the Department of Commerce, the reports noted.

In a report, Bloomberg news service has noted that President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration has raised its profile in India in recent weeks after China issued a statement telling Indian media outlets not to refer to Taiwan as a country when reporting on its Oct. 10 National Day celebrations. Twitter users in India lambasted China and its ambassador to New Delhi, Sun Weidong, while heaping praise on Taiwan and making the hashtag #TaiwanNationalDay go viral.

Indian public sentiment toward China has fallen in the wake of deadly border clashes between the two neighbors starting in May. The union government has since banned dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok, while also speaking with Japan, Australia and the US about creating alternative supply chains to diversify away from China in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. India has seen more than 7.5 million infections and 115,000 deaths from Covid-19, the Bloomberg report noted.

“We have to think about the way for democracies, for like-minded countries, to work further together,” Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu said during an interview with India Today TV. “We have traditional good relations with the United States, with Japan, and we want to develop closer ties with India as well.”

Ms Tsai, who was voted into a second term in a January landslide, has sought to capitalize on the wave of interest in Taiwan among Indians online. On October 11, she thanked Indian Twitter users who had sent national day greetings. Two days later she went viral again, posting photos of her visiting the Taj Mahal.

On October 15, Ms Tsai tweeted a photo of Indian food accompanied by a cup of masala chai, which some Twitter users saw as a possible reference to the so-called Milk Tea Alliance that has united activists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and elsewhere against Chinese nationalism. All three tweets received more than 40,000 likes each and thousands of friendly messages from Indian accounts.

#Taiwan is lucky to be home to many Indian restaurants, & Taiwanese people love them. I always go for chana masala and naan, while #chai always takes me back to my travels in #India, and memories of a vibrant, diverse & colourful country. What are your favourite Indian dishes?” Ms Tsai had tweeted.

China’s Communist Party, which claims Taiwan as its territory despite having never ruled it, has pushed back against the Tsai administration’s overtures to India.

“We urge relevant Indian media to adhere to the correct position with regard to the significant core interests of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ji Rong, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in New Delhi, said in a statement on Friday. Indian media, Mr Ji continued, “should not provide ‘Taiwan independence’ forces a platform, so as to avoid sending the wrong message.” =Agencies, IHN-NN

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