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Preventing a China-Taiwan Conflict

The article discusses India’s growing involvement in the China-Taiwan conflict due to expanding national interests, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the status quo, exploring policy options to prevent conflict, and understanding the strategic implications for India.

Introduction

With its expanding national interests, India finds itself increasingly entangled in the disputes on the far edges of Asia, notably in Taiwan. As China intensifies its claims over Taiwan and the U.S. signals its commitment to defend the island, India faces stronger compulsions to act decisively. While India is unlikely to engage militarily in a conflict over Taiwan, it possesses wider economic, security, and diplomatic levers to prevent such a scenario.

Maintaining the Status Quo

India has compelling reasons to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait for three main reasons:

  • India and Taiwan have seen a seven-fold increase in trade since 2001, with discussions underway for a potential free trade agreement. Collaborative ventures, such as the partnership between Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation and the Tata Group, highlight the economic stakes involved. Any disruption in the peaceful status quo could jeopardize critical supply chains and investments.
  •  A China-Taiwan Conflict would have catastrophic consequences for global trade, disrupting economies across Asia and beyond. A Bloomberg study estimates that such a conflict could result in a loss of over 10% of global GDP, with India’s economy particularly vulnerable due to its dependence on imports for sectors like electronics and pharmaceuticals.
  •  Beyond immediate economic implications, a protracted conflict could escalate tensions along the India-China border, impact global industrial capacity, and even raise the specter of nuclear escalation. Depending on the outcome, a shift in the regional balance of power could undermine India’s long-term strategic interests and security architecture.
Policy Options for India

Given the high stakes involved, India can adopt a multi-faceted approach to prevent a potential conflict and safeguard its interests:

  •  India can leverage international legal frameworks to advocate for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, emphasizing the principles of sovereignty and self-determination.
  • By constructing narratives that oppose aggression and support peaceful coexistence, India can shape public opinion and influence international discourse on the China-Taiwan Conflict.
  •  India can work with like-minded countries to coordinate diplomatic efforts and convey a unified message to China, underscoring the importance of maintaining regional stability.
  • Diversifying supply chains, reducing dependence on critical imports from China and Taiwan, and exploring alternative markets can help mitigate the economic risks associated with a potential conflict.
  • Supporting the Taiwanese people through information campaigns and public diplomacy initiatives can help counter misinformation and propaganda, fostering a more informed and balanced public discourse.
  • While India is unlikely to engage directly in a military conflict, providing logistical and intelligence support to U.S. forces in the Indian Ocean can bolster deterrence and signal India’s commitment to regional stability.
Strategic Implications

Implementing the policy options not only serves India’s immediate interests in preventing a China-Taiwan conflict but also advances its broader strategic objectives:

  • Enhancing Strategic Competition: These policies enhance India’s leverage in its strategic competition with China, positioning India as a key player in shaping the regional order.
  • Deepening Cooperation with the U.S.: By aligning its policies with those of the U.S., India can strengthen its partnership with Washington, accelerating its national rise and enhancing its strategic autonomy.
  • Global Leadership: Engaging proactively in preventing Chinese aggression can bolster India’s leadership credentials, particularly among countries of the Global South, fostering greater international cooperation and solidarity.
Conclusion

In conclusion, India’s expanding interests and ambitions necessitate proactive and nuanced policy settings to prevent a potential conflict over Taiwan. While these policies may invite Chinese retaliation, the costs of inaction far outweigh the risks associated with decisive action. By adopting a comprehensive and calibrated approach, India can safeguard its national interests, contribute to regional stability, and assert its leadership on the global stage.

UPSC CSE Mains Practice Question

Discuss the economic interdependence between India and Taiwan and analyze the implications of a disruption in the peaceful status quo in the Taiwan Strait on their bilateral trade relations. How can India mitigate the potential economic risks associated with a conflict over Taiwan?

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