China’s showcase of aggression in Galwan has been a turning point in Sino-India relations. Since then, India has showcased an unprecedented political will to tackle China. Unlike in the past, India’s solution was not war, rather to level the playing field. Ironically, India’s inspiration derived from the teachings of ancient Chinese strategician Sun Tzu. In the ‘Art of War’, Sun Tzu says that “the skilful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting.”Correspondingly, India’s policy marked a significant change.
Beginning with the economic boycott of Chinese products and investment, India tried to reduce its reliance on China in toto. On a tactical front, India’s policy primarily relied on reciprocity vis-à-vis bilateral obligations. India vowed to hold-off all commitments with China, including its allegiance to the One China Policy, a matter which is critical to the existence of China per se. By doing so, India was avoiding bloodshed as well as flexing China to honour its commitments.
The One China Policy: De-Facto versus De- Jure
One China Policy has been a paradoxical issue for China. The policy asserts that there is only one China, and it is the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), and not the Republic of China (ROC) situated in Taiwan. This has been the case since the Chinese Civil War in 1949, where the Kuomintang (ROC) was defeated by the Communists and forced to retreat to the island of Taiwan. China, irrespective of actual control, affirms that it also encompasses Taiwan, and maintains an official stance.Whereas, ROC states that it is the legitimate government of the free-area of Taiwan and is independent of China.
India was one of the first countries to recognise the One China Policy back in 1950.Earlier, India-Taiwan relations were uncommon, and on many occasions, India had reiterated the PRC view of One China Principle. However, from 1995 onwards, India had affirmed the existence of ROC as a territorial entity, and exchanged semi-diplomatic representation through trade and cultural offices. Yet, post the Galwan debacle, the reasons for India to reconsider the One China policy speaks for itself.
Chinese Conundrums: Gung-Ho, Debt-Trap Diplomacy and Kashmir
China’s armed expansion has been a major concern for India. There are two versions of Chinese aggression; combat and intimidation. Combat is not a novice threat to India. Since the War of 1962, India has faced rough and vicious hostilities from China, both in the Northern and Eastern frontiers. Comparatively, India’s primary worry is the Chinese Gunboat tactics. Chinese Navy is frequent in the Indian Ocean (String of Pearls factor), and regular developments are being sponsored by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)along the Indian border. Instances like Doklam are just the tip of the iceberg. Upon such notions, India fears that it might fall prey to China’s very own Thucydides Trapwhich might lead to economic and strategic fallouts.
Moreover, Chinese expansion in South Asia is critical to India’s sustenance in the region. Through attractive investments, China has swayed South Asian countries into its debt-trap and has captured its interests in the region. As speculated, China’s String of Pearls strategy, has surrounded and endangered India’s territorial integrity. Inter alia, by China making inroads in the subcontinent, India’s relevance is diminishing, which is again directly contributing to conflicts within the neighbourhood. An ideal example would be the recent border demarcation dispute with Nepal in Kalapani and Lipulekh.So, while Chinese funds liquidate South Asia, India is losing its political and cultural foothold in the region.
Furthermore, China’s position on Kashmir has been divergent. On the one hand, it has been vocal against India’s claim on Kashmir.On the other, China has backed Pakistan’s occupation of Kashmir, mainly to secure its marquee project- the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).Plus, China itself is in control of Aksai Chin, a territory which belonged to Ladakh (erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir). These instances led India to alter its perspectives on an ambivalent China and paved the way to target political predicaments that haunted Beijing’s power citadel.
India-Taiwan Relations: Turf-to-Turf Approach
As India deconstructs the One China policy, Taiwan emerges as a strong strategic partner in the East.Taiwan’s geopolitical importance coupled with its strong economy, provides India the perfect opportunity to further its strategic imperatives in the Indo-Pacific region. The Taiwanese government, through its ‘New Southbound Policy,’has also welcomed India’s commitment and cooperation in various sectors, which is a positive sign for both the states. On that note, India has a two-fold agenda in developing better relations with Taiwan; strategic and economic.
India’s strategic narratives in Taiwan are based on its geographical proximity to the Chinese mainland through the Taiwan Straits. It plans to stimulate the strategy in two ways. One, India directly promoting its Act East Policy, and fostering strategic ties and promoting cooperation with Taipei. Two, the India- US factor. The US shares friendly relations with both Taiwan and India. India can utilise this triangular relationship to intimidate China in its backyard. In apropos, India’s participation in US-led capacity building initiatives like the Malabar Exercise would be more productive, with Taiwan acting as the intermediate point for military logistics in the South China Sea.
Over the years, India-Taiwan Economic and Trade relations have grown significantly. During the previous financial year(2019-20), India-Taiwan trade stood at $ 7 billion, a 30 per cent hike from a trade balance ofa mere$ 1 billion in 2000. Taiwanese investment in India has witnessed a significant growth in the past decade, with a cumulative inflow of over $ 700 million.Besides, with the US-China tariff war intensifying due to the Coronavirus pandemic, India is set to welcome further inflow of FDI from Taiwan due to lesser costs and a better talent pool.
Technology is another aspect that goes hand-in-hand with India-Taiwan relations. Taiwan’s economy has been dominated by its vibrant electronics industry. It is the leader in semi-conductors and accounts for an annual export of $ 3.9 billion. India buys more than 80 per cent of its semi-conductor chips from Taiwan.Also, India, as a result of the‘Make in India’campaign, hosts around 55Taiwanese electronic companies that produce various IT products. In addition, two of Apple’s largest contract manufacturers, Foxconn and Pegatron, both of Taiwanese origin, have setup shop in India to cater to Indian and International Markets. Thanks to Taiwan, India now has a locally produced iPhone.
From this, it can be characterised that India and Taiwan share a quid pro quo approach; the latter gets the ideal market, while the former can successfully fulfil its strategy in the Orient.
Key Takeaways: Is India’s policy in Unchartered Waters?
Noticing the Covid-19 pandemic and the global animosity against the Chinese government, India can use this opportunity to amplify its One-China stance better than ever. Due to China’s bandwagon, Taiwan has been isolated for the past seven decades. If India gradually pitches on Taiwan’s position, particularly in multilateral institutions like the UN, it will be a positive factor for Taiwan and its people. India should bat for Taiwan’s cause, at least to affirm its priorities. Howbeit, India while pursuing this angle should take care of two issues- policy and partisan divides in Taiwan.
First, India should not revoke the One China policy completely, as grave repercussions tend to follow, including further aggression from China. Rather, India should partially abrogate the commitment like the US, by furthering active defence and cultural ties with Taiwan, sans diplomatic representation. This way India can actively beta-test its policy derivative, and can drive a hard bargain against China in its own turf. Second, the opinion divides between Taiwan’s major political parties- Kuomintang (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP),has been a major roadblock for India’s interests in the region. KMT supports better relations with China over India. On the contrary, DPP (Ruling Party), backs for strengthenedties with India. For the time being, India’s interests are stable, but if KMT secures power in Taiwan, India needs to be cognizant of the developments and should act accordingly.
Delhi’s determination matters the most. Importantly, India should inherently understand that China is an occupying force, and both the states are not in entente cordiale. On the same plane, India must move past its fait accompli moments with China. Instead, pragmatism should be the catharsis for India’s resurgence. In short, for India to execute its policy paradigms, its diplomatic psyche should be affirming than compromising. As Thucydides states in his accomplished work, ‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’:“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.”Similarly, India, heedless of win or vain, should confront China by skewing the One China policy. After all, India only has two options- either face it or feel the brunt.
Tzu, Sun. The Art of War. 1st ed., Rupa Publications, 2016, p. 20.
“Where Is India On the One China Policy?”. The Diplomat, 2017, https://thediplomat.com/2017/03/where-is-india-on-the-one-china-policy/.
Chattaraj, Abir. “Thucydides Trap in Asia: The Sino-Indian conflict” Modern Diplomacy, 2016, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2016/10/25/thucydides-trap-in-asia-the-sino-indian-conflict/
 Nepal is a beneficiary of China’s marquee project- Belt and Road Initiative, and it was dissuaded by China to snap relations with India on the account of the border dispute. See- Singh, Mansheetal, and Shreya Behal. “China’s Proxy Battle with India In Nepal”. Observer Research Foundation (ORF), 2020, https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/chinas-proxy-battle-with-india-in-nepal-69016/.
“India, China Clash Over Kashmir As It Loses Special Status and Is Divided”. Reuters, 2019, https://in.reuters.com/article/uk-india-kashmir/india-china-clash-over-kashmir-as-it-loses-special-status-and-is-divided-idINKBN1XA1BW.
The New Southbound Policy is an initiative of the current Taiwanese Government to enhance cooperation and exchange between Taiwan and South Asia, Southeast Asia and Australasia. The key areas include- economic cooperation, regional linking, resource sharing etc. See- Marston, Hunter, and Richard C. Bush. “Taiwan’s Engagement with Southeast Asia Is Making Progress Under the New Southbound Policy”. Brookings, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/taiwans-engagement-with-southeast-asia-is-making-progress-under-the-new-southbound-policy/.
Dewan, Neha. “Taiwan Sets Eyes on India Amid China-US Trade War”. The Economic Times, 2019, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/trade/exports/insights/taiwan-sets-eyes-on-india-amid-china-us-trade-war/articleshow/69408405.cms?from=mdr.
“Taiwan Regains Top Spot in Semiconductor Market”. Taipei Times, 2019, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2019/12/09/2003727214.
Supra. Note- 10.
“2019 Taiwan-India Industrial Collaboration Summit Held in Taipei On October 17”. PR Newswire, 2019, https://www.prnewswire.com/in/news-releases/2019-taiwan-india-industrial-collaboration-summit-held-in-taipei-on-october-17-863399392.html.
“’Made in India’ iPhone 11 goes into production in Chennai”Nikkei Asian Review, 2020, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Technology/Made-in-India-iPhone-11-goes-into-production-in-Chennai
 “iPhone-maker Pegatron registers India subsidiary as Apple pushes to diversify supply” The Economic Times, 2020, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/hardware/iphone-maker-pegatron-registers-indian-subsidiary-lays-foundation-for-apple-to-kick-china-habit/articleshow/77010035.cms
Rich, Timothy et al. “Taiwan’s Relations with India: Partisan Divides”. The Diplomat, 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/taiwans-relations-with-india-partisan-divides/.
Winn Livingstone, Sir Richard. The History of The Peloponnesian War. Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 113.
Assad’s visit to China: Breaking diplomatic isolation and rebuilding Syria
The visit of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to China to participate in the opening of the Asian Games came as a serious step to try to break the diplomatic isolation from Syria. Syrian President “Bashar Al-Assad” was keen to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping in the city of Hangzhou in eastern China, where the Asian Games are being held, as this was the Syrian president’s first visit to China since 2004. According to the Syrian regime’s Al-Watan newspaper, Al-Assad will attend the launch ceremony of the (nineteenth edition) of the Asian Games, which will open on September 23, in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. This visit to Bashar al-Assad reflects the great coordination between Moscow and Beijing, as it is likely that the Russians pushed for this visit at this precise time. Perhaps, through his visit to China, Bashar al-Assad is trying to deliver a specific message about the start of “international legitimization” of his regime. Syria’s accession to the Belt and Road Initiative in January 2022 is an indication of the possibility of implementing vital Chinese projects, especially since it is located between Iraq and Turkey, making it a vital corridor for land routes towards Europe.
Bashar Al-Assad’s visit to China also comes in an attempt to attract it to reconstruction projects in the affected areas in Syria, as China has the ability to complete reconstruction infrastructure in residential and civilian areas with exceptional speed. This is the same as what the Chinese ambassador to Syria “Shi Hongwei” announced in August 2023, that “Chinese companies are actively involved in reconstruction projects in Syria”. The war in Syria led to massive destruction of infrastructure and the destruction of many vital sectors of the Syrian economy, including oil, while the Syrian government is subject to harsh international sanctions. We find that the Chinese side has shown great interest in the reconstruction projects in Surba, such as the presence of more than a thousand Chinese companies to participate in (the first trade exhibition on Syrian reconstruction projects in Beijing), while they pledged investments estimated at two billion dollars.
China played an active role through diplomatic movements in Syria, as it participated in the “Astana” process, and obstructed Security Council resolutions related to Syria, to confirm its position in support of Damascus, using its veto power more than once in the Security Council, against resolutions considered to be a blow to Assad’s “legitimacy”. In September 2017, the Syrian regime classified China, along with Russia and Iran, as “friendly governments” that would give priority to reconstruction projects. Therefore, Al-Assad affirmed during his meeting with Chinese President “Xi Jinping” that: “this visit is important in terms of its timing and circumstances, as a multipolar world is being formed today that will restore balance and stability to the world, and it is the duty of all of us to seize this moment for the sake of a bright and promising future”.
According to my analysis, China follows the policy of “breaking diplomatic isolation on presidents and countries against which America is angry”, so the visit of “Bashar al-Assad” comes within a series of visits that China witnessed during the current year in 2023, to presidents who are isolated internationally by the United States of America, such as: Venezuelan President “Nicolas Maduro”, the Iranian President ”Ibrahim Raisi”, and the Belarusian “Alexander Lukashenko”.
China is also keen to conduct interviews in its newspapers and official websites affiliated with the ruling Communist Party with many presidents and officials of countries isolated internationally and diplomatically by the United States of America and the West, such as the Chinese keenness to conduct and publish an interview with Syrian Foreign Minister “Faisal Mekdad” on September 21, 2023, and the Chinese reviewed his statements, saying that “the United States of America has plundered oil, natural gas, and other resources from Syria, causing losses worth $115 billion”. The Chinese newspaper “Global Times”, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, also focused on the United States’ greater role in the deterioration of “Syria from stability to chaos” . The Chinese newspaper compared this to China’s policy, which constantly calls for peaceful dialogue and opposes “foreign interference” .
Through his visit to China, Syrian President “Bashar Al-Assad” is trying to lay the foundations for joint cooperation between China and Syria within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, with full Chinese support for Syria’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a dialogue partner. China has always affirmed its firm support for Syria’s efforts against foreign interference, with the Chinese rejection of the stationing of illegal forces on Syrian territory. China is also making great efforts with many countries to lift sanctions and the illegal economic blockade on the Syrian people, in addition to Chinese support for building Syrian capabilities in the field of combating terrorism. Knowing that despite its alliance with President “Bashar Al-Assad”, China did not participate in supporting him militarily, but it used the right of criticism to obstruct the passage of resolutions against him in the Security Council.
We can reach an important conclusion that Bashar Al-Assad’s visit to China has a greater political track, and that Beijing is trying to play a greater role in the issue of resolving conflicts or to have a greater actual role in negotiations related to sensitive issues in the region. The implications of Assad’s visit to China are also politically significant, as China is trying to play a greater political role in the region, as China has been trying since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the emergence of a vacuum in the Middle East as a result of the decline of Russian influence due to its preoccupation with the war, so Beijing is trying to expand in the Middle East and Africa.
China’s Inclusive Diplomacy for Global Cooperation
President Xi Jinping’s address at the recently held 2023 CIFTIS resonates as a powerful call for inclusive development and cooperation in the services trade sector. China’s commitment to expanding market access, increasing connectivity, and aligning policies with global standards demonstrates its commitment to ensuring a level playing field for all nations.
This commitment extends across different sectors, including telecommunications, tourism, law, vocational examinations, and the larger services sector. President Xi’s address emphasized China’s intention to expand broader, broaden market access, and support inclusive development in the services trade sector. His sentiments resonate with the global world as China seeks to create new prospects for openness, cooperation, and economic equality.
Over the last few decades, the services trade landscape has changed drastically, becoming an essential component of international business. However, this expansion has not been uniform, with developing countries frequently encountering difficulties such as limited market access, complex rules, and capacity limits that prevent them from fully participating in international services trade.
Notably, China is committed to promoting inclusive growth in the services trade sector. It assured of taking continuing steps to accelerate Chinese modernization through high-quality development, to open up new avenues for openness and collaboration for all countries.
Through openness, cooperation, innovation, and shared services, China emphasized the need for inclusive growth and connectivity. Recognizing that a rising tide in services trade should raise all boats, particularly those from nations with limited resources, China has launched a series of ground-breaking initiatives. Additionally, China is actively expanding its network of high-standard free trade areas, participating in negotiations on the negative list for trade in services and investment.
China is setting an example by aligning its policies with international standards. President Xi highlighted in his speech that national integrated demonstration zones for increased openness in the services sector, suitable pilot free trade zones, and free trade ports will be at the forefront of aligning policies with high-standard international economic and trade regulations. These zones demonstrate China’s commitment to fostering an atmosphere conducive to international cooperation and growth.
Real-world examples vividly demonstrate the practical impact of China’s assistance to developing countries in the services trade. China’s investments in transport infrastructure, such as the Standard Gauge Railway, have considerably facilitated the flow of goods and people in Kenya, boosting the services sector indirectly.
Pakistan’s experience with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is similar, with improved physical connectivity catalyzing the expansion of digital services and e-commerce. Various infrastructure developments in Indonesia have resulted in spectacular advances, opening up new potential for services trade.
Ethiopia, too, has reaped the benefits of China’s commitment, with active participation in industrial parks reviving the services sector, which includes logistics, banking, and education. These real-life success stories highlight China’s critical role in facilitating the expansion and development of services trade in developing countries.
China’s commitment to capacity building and technical aid is critical in its support for developing countries in the services trade. China provides these countries with the knowledge and skills they need to participate effectively in the services trade by offering specialized programs. Furthermore, China’s significant investments in infrastructure projects such as ports, logistical hubs, and telecommunications networks play an important role in facilitating the smooth flow of services.
Furthermore, China’s commitment to reducing entry barriers and optimizing regulations indicates the country’s persistent commitment to creating an equitable environment. This approach not only promotes equitable possibilities but also simplifies market access, making it easier for developing countries to export their services to China’s enormous and dynamic market.
Furthermore, China gives significant financial support in the form of loans and grants for service trade-related initiatives, recognizing the financial problems that many developing countries confront. This financial assistance enables nations to overcome economic challenges and invest in the expansion and improvement of their service sectors, thereby encouraging economic equality and cooperation.
As the world continues to evolve, services trade will play an increasingly important role in global economic growth, and China’s leadership in this realm is helping to shape a future where opportunities are shared, disparities are reduced, and cooperation knows no bounds. It is a vision worthy of appreciation and support since it is consistent with the ideals of justice and equality, moving the globe closer to a more linked and wealthy global community.
China’s Multilateral Engagement and Constructive Role in the G20
The recent G20 Summit in India has once again taken center stage, attracting global attention as it gathered together leaders and delegates from the world’s 20 most powerful economies. This high-profile event was significant in shaping international relations and addressing serious global concerns due to its broad presence and crucial talks. This high-stakes gathering occurs at a pivotal juncture, marked by escalating divisions among major powers on a multitude of pressing global issues, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, global economic recovery, food security, and climate change.
The recent inclusion of the African Union (AU) as a permanent member within the G20 serves as a positive signal, signifying consensus among major economies. However, lurking concerns persist about the formidable challenges involved in achieving unity and issuing a joint declaration in the midst of these complex global dynamics.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s opening remarks at the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi resonate as he underscores the paramount importance of unity and collaboration among G20 member nations. He emphasizes the critical need for effective coordination of macroeconomic policies to restore hope and generate momentum for long-term economic growth.
Premier Li eloquently highlights the interconnectedness of humanity’s destiny and calls upon nations to demonstrate mutual respect, seek common ground while momentarily setting aside differences, and work tirelessly towards peaceful coexistence. In a world characterized by profound crises and shared hardships, he aptly observes that no nation can thrive in isolation. Therefore, the only plausible pathways for guiding humanity forward are those rooted in cooperation and harmony.
The G20, originally established to navigate global financial crises and forge collective strategies for addressing economic challenges while fostering global economic development, has, regrettably, experienced a decline in consensus and a rise in differences among major powers. This shift has been particularly evident since the onset of the Ukraine crisis and the United States’ strategy of containment against China. Consequently, the G20 is increasingly devolving into a forum marked by discord, rather than the once-productive and constructive multilateral mechanism it was intended to be.
Nevertheless, the G20 retains its significance as a pivotal forum for international collaboration in confronting global challenges. With the increasing contributions of developing nations like China, India, and African countries, the voices within the G20 have diversified, no longer solely dominated by Western perspectives. As a response, the United States seeks to regain control of the multilateral process to further its agenda of great power competition. However, this approach is unlikely to be warmly received by the broader international community.
China remains steadfast in its commitment to deepen reforms and open up further to foster high-quality development and its unique brand of modernization. China views itself as a catalyst for additional momentum in global economic recovery and sustainable development. China stands ready to collaborate with all stakeholders to contribute to the well-being of our shared Earth, our common home, and the future of humanity. Despite Western media’s attempts to sensationalize China’s stance and magnify perceived differences, China continues to play a constructive role within the G20, dedicated to its multilateral mission.
To ensure that the G20 remains a platform focused on global governance rather than being overshadowed by geopolitical conflicts, China remains determined to fulfill its constructive role within the group, regardless of attempts by Western powers to politicize the mechanism. China’s efforts have expanded the G20 to include the African Union, effectively transforming it into the “G21.” China was the first nation to endorse African Union membership in the G20 and advocates for the African Union to assume an even more significant role in international governance.
The growing divisions and disputes within the G20 have eroded its effectiveness as a platform for addressing global challenges. These divisions, primarily driven by American actions and policies, have spawned tensions with far-reaching global implications, from the Ukraine crisis to escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea. These developments underscore the critical role the G20 plays in promoting cooperation and unity.
Amid the current geopolitical landscape characterized by major powers’ divisions, tensions have surged, resonating globally and causing ripple effects. From the Ukraine crisis to tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, the significance of the G20’s role in fostering cooperation and unity cannot be overstated.
All G20 member nations must recognize the urgent imperative of cooperation in building a world that is safer, more prosperous, and increasingly peaceful. Given the global challenges that transcend narrow national interests, effective responses can only be crafted through international cooperation. The G20 stands as a pivotal arena for this cooperation, with China’s positive contribution being indispensable in promoting cohesion.
Despite Western media’s efforts to sensationalize China’s position and magnify perceived gaps, China remains a committed multilateral partner within the G20, dedicated to constructive engagement. The G20 continues to serve as a critical platform for addressing global concerns, fostering unity, and promoting international collaboration. As the world grapples with intricate issues, it remains imperative that nations adhere to the principles of multilateralism and collaborate relentlessly to secure a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable future for all.
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