India to play ‘Taiwan card’ if China resorts to violence

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that if China ‘misbehaves’ with India further, the government has the option to play the ‘Taiwan card’ and upgrade India’s level of contact with the island that China claims as its own.

Tharoor’s reaction came as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concluded her visit to Taiwan amid strong reactions from China. Beijing announced military exercises and has warned against “playing with fire” as Pelosi became the first high-ranking elected US official to visit the island in 25 years.

“If at all China misbehaves with us, this is one of the cards we can also play to show that we are ready to upgrade our level of contact with Taiwan. The [external affairs] ministry should choose an appropriate time to play that card. Once you play the card, you can’t play it anymore,” Tharoor said, adding that sending a high-level official is an option that India should never rule out.

“Most of the world recognises the one China policy but at the same time maintain distinct economic relations with Taiwan. We have a delegation [in Taiwan] but we call it an economic delegation and not an embassy,” Shashi Tharoor told India Today.

The senior Congress leader added that even though China is not happy about Pelosi’s visit, it would not provoke a war as the US Speaker’s visit will not alter the US’s long-standing foreign policy on Taiwan.

“As far as China is concerned, it [Taiwan] is a matter of prestige. It is not in anyone’s interest to provoke an international war or any such incident. But my feeling is, it will pass,” Tharoor claimed.

According to Tharoor, it is becoming increasingly difficult for India to stay out of conflicts such as the one in Ukraine and now in Taiwan.

“During the cold war, when the US and Russia were somewhat distant from us, we could play a non-alignment role. In the present situation, we are not really neutral when it comes to our national interests. I don’t think we can be neutral in relation to China’s ambitions in the region because their ambitions unfortunately include us,” he said.