There is growing support within the Indian government to officially start talks on a trade deal with Taiwan as relations with China deteriorate in both democracies.

Taiwan has been seeking trade talks with India for several years, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to move forward as this would lead to a chaotic battle with China once a pact is registered with the World Trade Organization, according to a senior Indian government official, once a pact is registered with the World Trade Organization, which is not named wanted to be citing rules for speaking to the media.

However, in the past few months, the hawks in India seeking to start trade talks have gained the upper hand, the official said. A trade deal with Taiwan would help India’s aim to seek greater investments in technology and electronics, the official said, adding that it is unclear when a final decision on whether to start talks will be made.

Earlier this month, the Modi government granted firms such as Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, Wistron Corp. and Pegatron Corp. approved to attract more than 10.5 trillion rupees ($ 143 billion) of investment in smartphone manufacturing over five years.

India’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yogesh Baweja did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Taiwan’s top trade negotiator, John Deng, did not immediately respond to emails asking for comment.

Any formal talks with India would mean a big win for Taiwan, which has struggled to open trade negotiations with most of the major economies due to pressure from China. Like most countries, India does not officially recognize Taiwan as the two governments maintain unofficial diplomatic missions in the form of “representative offices”.

India and Taiwan signed an updated bilateral investment agreement in 2018 to further develop economic ties. Trade between them increased 18% to $ 7.2 billion in 2019, according to the Indian Ministry of Commerce.

India “should continue to be committed to the One China principle and approach Taiwanese issues carefully and properly,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian in Beijing on Tuesday. “There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. A China principle is a general consensus of the international community, including India. “

“Land” Spat

President Tsai Ing-wen’s government has been raising its profile in India in recent weeks after China issued a statement calling on Indian media not to designate Taiwan as a country when reporting on October 10th celebrations for the national holiday. Twitter users in India have berated China and its ambassador to New Delhi, Sun Weidong, while giving praise to Taiwan and making the hashtag #TaiwanNationalDay go viral.

The mood of the Indian public towards China has slackened since May after the deadly border collisions between the two neighbors. Modi’s government has since banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, while also talking to Japan, Australia and the US about creating alternative supply chains to diversify away from China after the coronavirus pandemic. India has seen more than 7.5 million infections and 115,000 deaths from Covid-19.

China’s insistence that Taiwan is not a country fails

This displeasure with China and Taiwan’s successful handling of the pandemic mean an opportunity for soft power for Tsai. Taiwan’s 24 million have seen fewer than 600 infections and only seven deaths.

“We have to think about how democracies and like-minded countries can continue to work together,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview last week on India Today TV. “We traditionally have good relations with the United States and Japan, and we want to develop closer ties with India.”

Tsai, who was elected to a second term in a landslide in January, has tried to capitalize on the wave of Indian Indian interest in Taiwan. On October 11th, she thanked Indian Twitter users for sending greetings on the national holiday. She went viral again two days later, posting photos from her visit to the Taj Mahal.

On October 15, 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, against which activists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and other countries have come together Chinese nationalism. All three tweets each received more than 40,000 likes and thousands of friendly messages from Indian accounts.

China’s Communist Party, which claims Taiwan as its territory despite never ruling it, has resisted the Tsai government’s overtures to India.

“We urge the relevant Indian media to take the correct position on the essential core interests of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China,” said Ji Rong, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, in a statement on Friday. The Indian media, Ji continued, “should not provide a platform for the Taiwanese independence forces to avoid sending the wrong message.”

Sana Hashmi, a scholarship holder from Taipei National Chengchi University and author of “China’s Approach to Territorial Disputes: Lessons and Perspectives,” said it made sense for India to join Taiwan economically.

“There seems to be an increasing awareness not only among Indians but also in other countries of how China has dictated relations in the region,” said Hashmi, who has written positions in Taiwanese and Indian media about closer ties between the two Promote democracies. “And it is not that China will make concessions to India or Taiwan for keeping its line.”

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