NEW DELHIIndia on Friday avoided any mention of its “one-China” policy as it opposed unilateral actions to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait in its first official response to tensions sparked by China’s military exercises following the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
The Indian side, which had been mired in a military standoff with China in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for more than two years, has so far kept a studied silence during last week’s Pelosi visit to the self-governed island that China sees as a breakaway province, and the air and sea exercises of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi, without mentioning China or Taiwan, outlined India’s stance on the issue in response to several questions at a weekly media briefing.
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“Like many other countries, India is also concerned about the recent developments. We urge restraint, avoidance of unilateral actions to change the status quo, de-escalation of tensions and efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Bagchi said.
A reporter from the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency pointedly mentioned Pelosi’s visit to “China’s Taiwan region” and the support Pelosi received from about 170 countries under the “one-China” principle, and asked about India’s position on this matter, but the spokesperson was not finished talking about the matter.
“India’s relevant policies are known and consistent. They don’t need to be repeated,” replied Bagchi.
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In response to another question, Bagchi said India currently has no plans to evacuate the 10,000 Indians living in Taiwan. He noted that all Indian missions around the world have contingency plans for foreign Indians, but said no advice has been issued so far in the case of Taiwan.
Nearly all other countries that have criticized China’s military exercises in the Taiwan Strait have also acknowledged the ‘one China’ policy regarding their relations with Beijing. India is one of the few countries that has not referenced the policy in its response to tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
People familiar with the matter said that the “one China” principle has not been mentioned in the joint statements of India and China even since 2005. The last time the Chinese side pushed for inclusion in a joint statement was during the Chinese president’s visit to India in 2014.
At the time, the Indian side was noncommittal due to widespread anger at China’s policy of issuing “stapled visas” to residents of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which are claimed by China.
A report on India-China relations released by the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2018 noted that India is “overtly cautious about China’s sensitivities when dealing with Taiwan and Tibet”, while “China does not have the same respect in dealing with India’s sovereignty issues, whether in the case of Arunachal Pradesh or that of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir (PoK)”.
Since the beginning of the military standoff at the LAC in May 2020, the Indian leadership has accused Chinese forces of several attempts to change the status quo in border areas and of violating border management agreements and protocols. India’s opposition to such unilateral changes to the status quo has been supported by key partners such as Australia and several European countries.
While there are no diplomatic relations between India and Taiwan, both sides have had representations in each other’s capital cities since the mid-1990s to deal with economic, trade, investment, cultural, and scientific and technological issues.