Taiwan has announced its decision to open its third representative office in India, this time in Mumbai. The move comes after more than a decade since Taiwan last expanded its presence in the country. The establishment of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in Mumbai aims to facilitate trade, investment, and provide various services to Taiwanese nationals and Indian businesspeople and tourists. This development signifies a significant step toward enhancing economic linkages and strengthening relations between India and Taiwan.
India and Taiwan do not maintain formal diplomatic ties due to India’s adherence to the One-China policy. However, in 1995, the two countries established the India-Taipei Association (ITA) in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi, serving as de facto embassies for both nations. In 2012, Taiwan further expanded its presence by establishing the TECC in Chennai, which became a thriving hub for Taiwanese firms.
Expansion of Taiwan’s Presence
The decision to open a TECC in Mumbai holds its own strong rationale and is not solely linked to the current downturn in India-China relations. Former Indian Ambassador to China and Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Ashok Kantha, emphasized the critical mass and strategic interest shared by India and Taiwan in the context of evolving global and regional dynamics. Mumbai, as a major economic center in western India, presents opportunities for mutually beneficial trade and investment.
No Government-to-Government Engagement
The previous openings of representative offices in 1995 and 2012 did not adversely affect India-China relations. India conveyed to China that these offices were not official diplomatic missions, and there would be no government-to-government engagement. The focus was primarily on promoting trade and investment linkages between India and Taiwan, acknowledging Taiwan’s economic significance as a major trading entity.
India recognizes the importance of maintaining peace and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Any conflict or heightened tensions in the region could have severe implications for India’s economic and national security interests. Former Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale highlighted the potential impact of a blockade by China on semiconductor exports to India, as Taiwan is a major producer of advanced logic chips and critical components.