Mounting tensions between PRC (China) and ROC (Taiwan) were visible on the Indian front as well, as Taipei accused the former of trying to impose censorship in India-in response to reports in Indian media on the upcoming celebrations of the ‘109th’ anniversary of the National Day of Taiwan, which is celebrated on October 10th.
Reacting furiously to such media reports, the Chinese embassy issued a statement stating that, “Regarding the so-called forthcoming ‘National Day of Taiwan’, the Chinese Embassy in India would like to remind our media friends that there is only one China in the world, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China”. The statement further said, “We hope Indian media can stick to Indian government’s position on Taiwan question and do not violate the ‘One China’ principle. In particular, Taiwan shall not be referred to as a ‘country (nation)’ or ‘Republic of China’ or the leader of China’s Taiwan region as ‘President’, so as not to send the wrong signals to the general public.”
This controversy has erupted at a time when the sentiment in India towards China is filled with antipathy and suspicion after deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese troops on the disputed Himalayan border.
The Taiwanese Foreign Minister reacted to Beijing’s advice to the media by tweeting, “India is the largest democracy on Earth with a vibrant press & freedom-loving people. But it looks like communist #China is hoping to march into the subcontinent by imposing censorship. #Taiwan’s Indian friends will have one reply: GET LOST!” Further, Ministry of External Affairs, India reminded it’s Asian neighbor that, “There is a free media in India, that reports on issues that they see fit.”
India’s Ministry of External Affairs also slammed Beijing saying that “Indian Media Is Free,” while refuting China’s attempts to censor it.
India’s relations with Taiwan
Although China claims Taiwan to be a part of China, as a runaway province, Taiwan enjoys considerable autonomy. It has a democratically elected government and also a standing army of its own. Though India does not recognise Taiwan as a separate nation and does not have an official mission in Taipei, the relations between the two countries have continued to steadily grow over the past two decades. India has diplomatic presence in Taiwan through a representative office, India-Taipei Association.
In turn, Taiwan’s External Trade Development Council had set up four new offices in India — in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai — in 2018. New Delhi has cautiously threaded it’s relation with Taipei in a way not to ire China by changing the ‘One China Policy’ followed by India.
But scholars have called for a review of this principle as they claim that China is not sensitive to India’s claims over Jammu and Kashmir and also claims parts of India as it’s own territory. But, the current dispensation in New Delhi has shown a willingness to change this policy in the backdrop of growing hostilities between the Asian Giants. It was evident in the recent swearing-in ceremony of the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in May. In a departure from India’s position on the country that China claims is its territory, two Members of Parliament of India – BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan attended the swearing-in ceremony of the President. Back in 2016, when Tsai was elected to her first term, after initial consideration, the Modi government had decided against sending its MPs to Taiwan for the inaugural ceremony.