India-Taiwan Cooperation Framework By Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)

Also Published in The Financial Express @ India-Taiwan cooperation framework

India and Taiwan must establish an informally formal Strategic Cooperative system which is all encompassing. The start point of such a system is that both countries are democracies and these values have to be spearheaded and reinforced through political contact and exchange. 

US will always like to trade and strategically partner with democratic Taiwan outside Beijing’s influence.

By Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)

China has multiple  territorial and maritime disputes with many nations. However its most important disputes at this point of time are with Taiwan and India. The disputes with Taiwan and India are not merely territorial but hegemonistic and expansionist in nature. They are also part of China’s larger design to establish global supremacy and a Sino Centric world order. Annexation of Taiwan at the earliest is China’s first priority ambition. PRC wants to illegally annex the island nation despite never having ruled it even for one day. Primarily Taiwan is the very antithesis of the Chinese propaganda that communism is the best form of governance or progress. Taiwan’s prowess in Chip manufacturing makes it an attractive economic and technological proposition to capture it. Capturing Taiwan also means defeating the USA and  showing the latter’s inability to withstand Chinese  military might. 

Defeating the USA makes China into a complete super power. Also, the fall of Taiwan breaks the first island chain irrevocably. This will enable unhindered global deployment of PLAN. It also prevents direct military contact with mainland China. In that eventuality, China  becomes unassailable to transfer itself from being a nation consigned to defending itself to an outbound nation which can dominate the seas. In this context, Taiwan should never be allowed to fall unless the world is prepared for a Sino Centric global order.

Defeating India in a military conflict is China’s alternate priority. Chinese apprehend that India is emerging as the global alternative to China if it is allowed to grow unimpeded. Hence it must hand India a military defeat and show it as incapable and weak. Additionally, even a small military victory over India enables enhancing PRCs influence in South Asia and  promotes its unhindered entry into the IOR. Last but not the least, it will enable expansion of Chinese control , south of the Himalayan crest line. This will lead to the eventual outflanking of the Pacific from the west and solving the Malacca dilemma. 

Hitherto fore, China has been dealing with Taiwan and India separately. It has created conditions such that both these kindred democracies do not combine and form a united front. The fact that many countries including India don’t formally recognize Taiwan is a political hindrance to form an united front against China. Also, the physical distance separating India and Taiwan has been an inhibitor. However, in contemporary global conditions of enhanced electronic and digital connectivity, faster means of transportation, and increased feasibility of people to people contact, separation between Taiwan and India can be bridged to enable a joint strategic push against China.  India and Taiwan must find new ways to enhance political, diplomatic, economic, cultural and military linkages which must go beyond mere cooperation. Most importantly, Taiwan and India must target the moves and weaknesses of the PRC jointly.

India and Taiwan must establish an informally formal  Strategic Cooperative system which is all encompassing. The start point of such a system is that both countries are democracies and these values have to be spearheaded and reinforced through political contact and exchange. In an electronic world, the emphasis must be on digital rather than physical contact. Hence mechanisms must be explored to reinforce  political support and views at multiple levels. India must enable Taiwan to expand and enter international political platforms even if it is through the back door at present.

It is in India’s and international interest that annexing Taiwan either militarily or politically becomes a goal too far for China. At the outset, political exchanges between India and Taiwan must be increased so that the latter is not politically isolated. That is what the USA has done by the visit of its speaker and congressional delegation recently.  Visits by Indian politicians and parliamentary exchanges must be more visible. While we have already taken a few steps in this direction, the frequency has to be more.

As Chinese offensive military capabilities increase, so must Taiwan increase its defensive capabilities in proportion.  This can be achieved by two methods. Firstly, Taiwan must be militarily strengthened to make it into a porcupine like Ukraine has become for Russia. A joint intelligence collection and sharing system will be the initial step in this direction. India with its huge military training and other capabilities can contribute much to Taiwan’s defence preparation directly. A military to military cooperation must commence. The indirect method will also be effective. In an era of multi domain operations, any action by China against India or Taiwan individually should trigger a joint and reciprocal  response in different domains. 

In essence, China should constantly be faced  with a multiple front situation in multiple domains. In the current environment, the USA, Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam will be valuable international partners. The QUAD platform should be actively used to strengthen Taiwan. If China expects an Asian NATO from QUAD, it should be given to them. India also has the capability to provide strategic depth to Taiwan and it need not be only military in nature. It will involve an increase of  economy, science, technology, commerce and education cooperation and exchange programs. All these exchanges should also result in weakening Chinese economic influence globally. Hence exchanges in as many domains as possible will be valuable to both nations. The nuclear domain also needs to be exploited.  There is a lot of scope for India-Taiwan nuclear cooperation.  This should be on the same lines and principles as China-Pakistan or China-North Korea nuclear and missile cooperation was developed.

It is well known that China has five instabilities.  Taiwan, Tibet and  Xinjiang are its major instabilities. Hong Kong and Mongolia remain its other instabilities. It is time that Taiwan and Tibet are conflated. A major information, human rights and lawfare campaign needs to be commenced. The ‘One China’ policy must also be contended and dropped from international lexicon progressively. As has already been done, strategic ambiguity regarding One China which has commenced must be persisted with. Taiwan must be enabled to incrementally achieve recognition as an independent state. Simultaneously, autonomy/independence of Tibet should be progressed. 

The human rights situation in Xinjiang and the concentration camps established by China needs greater focus. All these issues should force China to look inwards.  India can do a lot in this regard. It is also now established that China is weakening economically. Its weakness especially in the finance and real estate sector is causing unrest amongst the people. This also needs to be clubbed with the other Human Rights issues and taken up through all available fora. It is also high time that efforts are made to break the electronic firewall which China has built. If Taiwan and India join hands, a lot can be achieved.

It is also understood that in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between Taiwan there will be certain difficulties. However, that should not deter India or Taiwan. Both countries should learn to play in the gray zone. The approach should be to expand people to people contact through academic and cultural exchanges and then steadily widen the cooperation portfolio. It is also not necessary that all activities be visible in the public domain. A lot can be achieved in virtual domains and behind the scenes. New ways must be found to enhance political, economic, diplomatic and military cooperation with Taiwan with a view to tackle a common threat. There should be no doubt that China is a common threat.

The author is PVSM, AVSM, VSM, and a retired Director General of Artillery. He is currently a Professor in the Aerospace Department of IIT Madras. He writes extensively on defence and strategic affairs @

9 responses to “India-Taiwan Cooperation Framework By Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)”

  1. Sir, you say, “PRC wants to illegally annex the island nation despite never having ruled it even for one day”.Formosa (Taiwan) was ceded by the China (Qing dynasty) to Japan, in 1895 by the Treaty of Shimoneski (hpttps:// Since China was one of the victors over the Japanese, all Chinese territories captured by the Javanese would revert back to China. The CPC fought the KMT in a civil war. The KMT did not surrender. They retreated to the Chinese territory of Formosa. The civil war was never formally over. The KMT hoped to finally win it and return. The CPC hopes to win the last battle of the civil war. The  US for its own reasons backs one of the parties in the civil war. (if they provided more energetic support to Chiang Kai Shek, when he really needed it, …) I do not think that what the Chinese want to achieve should be termed annexation. I think its quite right for it to be called, unification of the motherland.

  2. Sir, doesn’t China’s idea of annexing Taiwan sound counterintuitive? Given the fact that it keeps claiming one China and Taiwan is an integral part of its territory? So far as India is concerned, my view is that China might not dare a military action, due to an imminent risk of a double whammy; (1) Potential loss of 120 Bn$ of trade (especially in the current, wherein its deflated economy needs exports) along with (2) a bloody nose! On the contrary, it might escalate gray zone warfare (as mentioned by you several times in your blogs & web sessions) by fomenting trouble alongside our borders (Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) and inside via cyberattacks on our vital networks. Unfortunately, this is an area where PRC is miles ahead than anyone one else. Diplomatic engagement with Taiwan along with heightened cooperation in other fields, such as AI/Robotics, Wind power, healthcare & electronics will certainly make a huge difference. Unfortunately, EU is a trifle unreliable in this regard, given its “once bitten, twice shy” situation due to Ukraine! More importantly, I am afraid it might neither openly nor fully side with the US on Taiwan, due to its 500 Bn$ subsistence/dependence on China. The only way this rogue regime could be made mend its ways, is by international shaming; by repetitively highlighting its organ harvesting practices from Uyghur Muslim population, the grossest possible HR violations not only in Xinjiang, Tibet but in Main land, its Draconian land grabbing/debt trapping policies and most importantly how it shies away in acknowledging its dead; both military or civilian! Best part is China is presently passing through an extremely challenging politico-demographic-economic-geographic phase, therefore; “strike the iron when red-hot”, might be the right metaphor to sum up the comment!

  3. Well summed up Veny S.

  4. If India encourages secession in China then China will repay India in the same coin. China's main contact with a secession group in India has been in Nagaland. However, if India opens a new front, then China would act in parallel by opening a new front. China would be very tempted to engage with the Khalistan movement. China Radio International could start a Punjabi service (e.g. full throttle reporting about provocations by Shiv Sena in Punjab) and Chinese embassies in Canada and the UK could donate funds to pro-Khalistan Sikh civic groups.Watch: CCTV visuals of Mohali RPG attack, rocket fired from a moving vehicle

  5. “Chinese apprehend that India is emerging as the global alternative to China if it is allowed to grow unimpeded.”Chinese view India now and in the future as a regional power. Chinese do not predict India will grow to become a major power, whether impeded or unimpeded. Indians, in particular high caste Hindus, are certain that India will become a superpower by 2020, 2030, or 2040 (date keeps on getting pushed back). Indians are convinced Chinese could not possibly be sincere in their condescension towards India. Why? Because it would create doubts in the minds of Indians, in particular high caste Hindus, about the trajectory of their country towards major power status. The thought of India being stuck as a poor country for decades into the future is an awful thought. The General certainly does not want to leave this valley of tears as the citizen of a poor country. The idea of national failure shatters the Indian ego and ingrained sense of superiority of the high caste Hindu. After some mental gymnastics, Indians conclude that Chinese people must be lying when they show consdescension towards India's propsects for rapid long term economic growth. Therefore, China must actually have secret plans for starting a war with India to cut it down. Indians totally ignore the fact China never bothered building up troops at the border for at least 8 years after India started in 2009 and kept on going with a massive military buildup in the border areas because it is evidence of sincere condescension by Chinese. No, instead it was pointed out that China built up a lot of infrastructure in the western half of China and border areas (never mind China and splurged on infrastructure everywhere in China) so that showed aggressive intentions.It's a sad sight to see. Indians are so desperate for validation that India will become a great country within their lifetimes that they imagine non-existent Chinese attack plans in order to validate this fantasy of India Shining.

  6. Arrey PLA 50center, what's this bleating on and on about high caste hindus. Take a look at the civilizational history of Bharat and see if it ever had any globe dominating ambitions? All Bharat cares about is securing its territorial integrity and the availability of a reasonable quality of life for all its denizens. We don't have the desire to enslave/dominate other people as you Chinese middle-kingdom cultists do.

  7. Firstly, your pain is palpable and secondly, you didn't bother India because of the Pappu regime, which you took for granted for eternity and signed a secret MOU. Finally and you woke up from your deep slumber after being cornered in Doklam and later Galwanized in Galwan. It's laughable when you talk of condescension, ego, failures and economic situation, as all these have either happened or happening to you! So far as India is concerned, yes, we fail, but unlike you, we don't fake success, take your vaccine and zero covid for example! Therefore, take a chill pill and sulk for that tight slap rendered by an octogenarian woman and if possible start questioning your leadership instead of venting your suppressed feelings here.

  8. Mr PLA,Keep writing rubbish since you are paid by CCP.We in India dont need to show China or anybody else how and where we are headed. Chinese decline has already started! Foxconn spending 300 million $ that will generate 30,000+ jobs in Vietnam ( jobs that you wont have!). The trickle has started and will only gather momentum in the coming years. The world has realised what a monster China is. It too 30 years to couple with China and it will take maybe 10 years to decouple. your youth unemployment rate hovers around 20%. Your banks are in trouble, your real estate market has collapsed, your population decline has started and your population is aging. All this has reduced consumption. just lie back and relax as rape of China is inevitable

  9. 83 year old nancy pelosi and 87 year old dalai lama make the PLA and 11 jinping piss in their pants … ha ha .. fix that first chinese monkey … PLA will soon be the world's first army to offer direct retirement on joining .. haha .. what will you do attack india from the ICU ?

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