With China’s aggressive posture against Taiwan increasing in intensity, former chiefs of India’s three services are in Taipei to engage with various sections of the Taiwanese leadership and express India’s views

At a time when China has been flexing its military muscles around Taiwan, hoping to intimidate the democratic country which it regards as its own territory, the Indian military is weighing its options on how to deal with a sudden crisis.

Though the Indian establishment has traditionally adopted a cautious approach to the China-Taiwan issue, New Delhi is now considering a deep dive into the conflict. Former chiefs of India’s three services are in Taipei to engage with various sections of the Taiwanese leadership and express India’s views. Admiral Karambir Singh, General M.M. Naravane and Chief of Air Staff R.K.S. Bhadauria—the former Navy, Army and Indian Air Force chiefs respectively--are in Taipei for the Ketagalan Forum’s 2023 Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue, in what is seen as Indian representation for the conference.

With Taiwan consistently rejecting China’s territorial claim, Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island nation under its control. According to military and strategic analysts, China will not take any military action in the next three-four years. But, the mighty People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy and air force would continue to make regular threatening gestures, with probing sallies in the air and in the Taiwan Strait, as well as military manoeuvres.

The presence of three former chiefs of the Indian military in Taipei has resulted in a lot of speculation, especially about India’s stand on Chinese aggression against Taiwan. The Indian armed forces have been locked in a face-off with the PLA in high-altitude Ladakh and elsewhere along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for over three years, with the PLA making multiple incursions to alter the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The Indian establishment is increasing taking the view that a conflict in the Taiwan Strait will have an adverse impact on India and its economy. So, a section of the Indian leadership is of the opinion that Taiwan should be backed against China’s aggressive tactics.

New Delhi’s new stand has also prompted the Indian military to make an assessment of India’s response in case of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Anil Chauhan has asked the three services to come up with suggestions and options for India in the event of a full-blown crisis.

India follows the ‘One China policy’ vis-à-vis Taiwan and does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taipei.

South Block mandarins claim that if the US and its allies support Taiwan against China, India may need to review its stand, especially in case Washington asks for India’s support for refuelling its jets and other similar requests. India and the US have also signed a Logistics-Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) to support each other in case of need. LEMOA gives access to designated military facilities on either side for refuelling and replenishment. Other areas in the agreement’s ambit include food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, communication services, medical services, storage services, training services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services and calibration services between the two nations.

Last week, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired Chasing Dreams, an eight-part documentary about the Chinese armed forces’ preparations to attack Taiwan, to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the PLA. The first few episodes focused on recent military drills that China conducted around Taiwan, and features dramatic testimonies from several PLA soldiers who express their willingness to die in an invasion of Taiwan.