Where to use?

Prelims: One-China Principle

Mains: India-Taiwan Relations

International Relations | Mains Paper 2: India & Its Neighborhood - Relations

Why in news?

When US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan which upsets China, India was keenly watching the developments, although it has not yet remarked on them.

What is the ‘One China policy?

  • It is the diplomatic disclosure of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
  • Under the policy, a nation should determine and have formal relations with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day.
  • The policy is also a fundamental bedrock of Chinese policy-making and tactfulness.
  • Regardless, it is distinctive of the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inviolable part of one China to be reunified one day.

How did it come about?

  • The policy can be outlined back to 1949 and the end of the Chinese civil war.
  • The overthrown Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang, retreated to Taiwan and made it their centre of government while the victorious Communists began governing the landmass as the People’s Republic of China. Both sides said they symbolised all of China.
  • Since then China’s ruling Communist Party has jeopardised to use of force if Taiwan ever formally claims independence, but it has also sought a more peaceful diplomatic way with the island in recent years.
  • Taiwan’s government was set up by the Kuomintang, whose party symbol is reflected in Taiwan’s flag
  • Originally, many governments including the US acknowledged Taiwan as they parted from Communist China. But the diplomatic winds redirected as China and the United States saw a mutual need to develop relations beginning in the 1970s, with the US and other countries cutting ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing.

Why is China obsessed with Taiwan?

  • Taiwan is the largest producer of electronic chips, which are supplied to almost all industries, from phones to laptops, watches to game consoles, industrial equipment to automotive, and aircraft and fighter jets.
  • TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is the largest foundry in the world and holds around 65 per cent of the global production of chips.
  • Any potential conflict with China would completely disrupt the entire supply chain of TSMC and labour availability and could cause a major shortage of electronic chips.
  • Additionally, China controls five per cent of the global production of chips, which could also be affected.
  • This could further impact the already existing supply-demand gap for electronic components.

India- Taiwan Relations



  • India does not have standard diplomatic ties with Taiwan yet, as it follows the One-China policy. 
  • Regardless, during then-Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010, India did not mention support for the One-China policy in the joint communique.
  • In 2014, when PM Modi came to governance, he invited Taiwan’s Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien, along with Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration to his swearing-in.

Diplomatic ties

  • While following the One-China policy, India has an office in Taipei for diplomatic operations, India-Taipei Association (ITA) is headed by a senior diplomat.
  • Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi. Both were established in 1995.
  • Their ties focus on commerce, culture and education.
  • Now in their third decade, these have been intentionally kept low-profile, owing to China’s perceptiveness.
  • For example, parliamentary delegation visiting and legislature-level dialogues have been discontinued since 2017, almost the time the India-China border standoff occurred in Doklam.

The new push

  • Any considerable development in India-Taiwan relations bears the risk of meeting with a likely authoritarian reaction from Beijing.
  • This explains India’s steady, albeit gradual, outreach to Taiwan.

Way forward

Given that India-China relations are not potentially witnessing a return to normalcy in the near future, India should consider adopting a bold, comprehensive and long-term approach to engaging Taiwan.

Enhancing relations with Taiwan may also interest the US which is actively countering China's aggressive policy. This may lead to a stronghold of the Indo-Pacific region for India.