What Nancy Pelosi’s Visit Means for India and Taiwan: A View from Taipei

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this month. Unsurprisingly, China responded positively to the visit. To justify its position, it said the United States and Taiwan were changing the status quo through regular political exchanges, and that the United States was interfering in China’s internal affairs. So, when Pelosi visited Taiwan, China announced that it would conduct large-scale live-fire exercises to blockade Taiwan.

China’s military activities and the possibility of an accident or miscalculation have always alerted the international community. In June, when Yang Jiechi, a senior Chinese diplomat, met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan in Luxembourg, he reiterated that “the Taiwan issue concerns the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations, and if handled improperly, it will have subversive effects.” However, it was China that failed to notice the sensitivity and willingness of the Taiwanese people.

Pelosi’s visit has been well-received in Taiwan and benefits the country at a time when China seeks to isolate the island and a growing security threat.

It is worth mentioning that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is good for both the United States and China: Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan proved the successful implementation of the “Taiwan Travel Act”, and Pelosi became the top US official to visit Taiwan in decades. It will normalize semi-political dialogue and interaction between Taiwan and the United States. This will further incentivize U.S. allies to regularly send delegations to Taiwan. As far as China is concerned, the CCP used Pelosi’s visit to change the status quo and normalize its military operations in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan and India face similar threats

Since 2020, China has been using aggression against Taiwan and India. Both countries face similar challenges in the Taiwan Strait and the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Taiwan was a victim of China’s encroachment on Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), and now China is establishing a new normal by entering the middle line. Military intimidation, economic coercion, and psychological warfare will only increase in intensity.

In 2020, China launched an invasion of the Galwan Valley, killing 20 Indian soldiers. Around the same time, China began increasing its aerial occupation of Taiwan (the Air Defense Identification Zone). Not only is China raising tensions on the LAC, India is also concerned about Chinese activities in its immediate vicinity. Two such examples are Nepal and Sri Lanka. In a push for the controversial Belt and Road Initiative, China has announced it will launch a study to build a cross-border railway with Nepal. What worries India even more is that the Chinese spy ship Yuanwang 5 is docked at the Hambantota port, which was leased to China for 99 years. China took advantage of the financial crisis in Sri Lanka to send monitoring ships to the port of Hambantota so that Chinese warships can be stationed in the future – once again becoming the new normal around India. China has been expanding its footprint around India, a sign of China’s ambitions to contain India in the region.

Opportunities in India

India’s traditional view of Taiwan is from a geopolitical perspective, seeing it as a sensitive issue. For decades, Taiwan’s status has continued to improve. Taiwan is at the forefront of democratic chip supply chain resilience. India is seeking to strengthen chip cooperation with Taiwan. This is an opportunity for India to court Taiwanese semiconductor companies and shift its base from China to India.

Negotiations for a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement have begun. Pelosi’s visit, and now the trade deal, shows that the United States sees Taiwan as an important part of its Indo-Pacific strategy. This is also an economic opportunity for India. Taiwanese companies are trying to move their bases from China, and India is a potential market for Taiwan. Given that the India-China dialogue is not moving in a positive direction, India should be more open to Taiwan and find more ways to engage with Taiwan. One approach might be to have more discussions within the Quartet, where all three other countries are concerned about instability in the Taiwan Strait.

Now is the time for India and Taiwan to expand their cooperation and be more ambitious in terms of engagement. The situation in the Taiwan Strait cannot be allowed to benefit China. Otherwise, the CCP will see this situation as an achievement and a failure of the Indo-Pacific countries. President Tsai Ing-wen said, “Taiwan is willing and able to strengthen cooperation with democratic partners to build a sustainable supply chain of democratic chips.”

Now is the time for liberal democracies to step up mutually beneficial cooperation and confront the Chinese threat.

Dr. Hsiao-Chen LIN is an assistant professor at National Defense University, Taiwan. She received her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Opinions expressed are personal.

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