Manipal, India — During the period when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition was in office, from 1998-2004, India launched several initiatives to enhance links with Taiwan. Air links were expanded and foundations laid for a flow of Indian brainpower to Taiwan and a ramping up of investment into India. Today trade between India and Taiwan is close to US$6 billion, heading for $10 billion within the next year.
However, mainly because of a lack of attention from the Sonia Gandhi-led United Progressive Alliance government, Taiwanese investment in India, at a little over US$1 billion, is just one-fifth of what it is in much smaller Cambodia and less than 5 percent of investment in Vietnam.
This official neglect of Taiwan is motivated by the hope that kowtowing to China will result in a more accommodating attitude from Beijing on issues such as the border dispute – a proposition that has so far proved false.
It would seem that with Taiwan under the leadership of the Kuomintang, China is unconcerned about links between New Delhi and Taipei, barring the ritual expressions of dismay at India’s rare recognition of Taiwan's potential as a major source of investment.
Taiwanese diplomats unfortunate enough to be posted to New Delhi are subject to restrictions that are absent in the United States, the European Union, and in most of Asia – excluding countries such as Syria, Iran or North Korea. For example, the military attaché at the Taiwan mission in India has been barred by the Sonia-led government from meeting any – repeat any – serving officer in the three armed forces. He can meet only retired personnel, the older the better.