by Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi: Increasing tensions between China on one hand and Taiwan and the US on the other have started lapping Indian shores.

Three days after the US House of Representatives passed a law which supports increased defence spending by Taiwan, Taipei’s local mission here appealed for Indian help to get it back on a global health body from which it was excluded after a Independence-minded President took office three years ago.

China has been pressuring countries to severe all diplomatic ties with Taiwan ever since the US cut diplomatic ties in 1979 and recognised only Beijing under the “One China” policy. As a result, Taiwan has formal embassies in 17 countries only while the rest are called Taipei Economic and Cultural Centres.

Head of the Indian Centre, Chung-kwang Tien made the case for Taiwan’s inclusion in a World Health Organisation conference on grounds that no country should be excluded from such a critical sector where his country had much to contribute.

India has a substantial relationship with Taiwan despite having no formal ties and Tien made no effort to hide it while taking pot-shots at China. “Our Indo-Taiwan trade is balanced unlike another country where India is in the red by $ 55 billion,” he said in a reference to Sino-Indian trade. Taiwan, he said, is considered a soft power unlike other “sharp powers”, he said in another broadside at Beijing.

At the same time, Tien acknowledged that China had considerably more heft and said, “we will not ask for too much” while appreciating the presence of Ronald Sapa Tlare, MP, as a signal of political support to the Taiwanese cause.

Dr Anamika, a Taiwan expert, offered a solution: the WHO DG could extend an invite to Taiwan if its participation as an “observer non-member state” is problematic because of lack of agreement on whether it is a state or not.

But this faux fight over Taiwan’s attendance at a WHO meet obscures the passage of the US Taiwan Assurance Act which has raised China’s hackles. Unlike the previous two Taiwanese Presidents, Tsai Ing-wen desires a departure from the Kuomintang's approach which has contributed to tensions and a stark warning from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tien termed the US law as a “strong shot in the arm at the right time” and urged other countries to follow suit. “China has gone too far by sticking its nose into everyone’s business,” he observed.

Tien also defended Taiwan’s support to the China—containment policy for the Indo-Pacific by pointing out that it was a missing link.

“We are strategically placed. If Taiwan is not included there will be a missing link,” he said while declaiming any intention of indulging in a power game.