Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Taiwan- China: India in the Event of a Cross-Strait Conflict


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Taiwan-China conflict and India's role


Central Idea


  • India needs to proactively consider its military, diplomatic, and economic responses to a potential cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan.




  • PLA’s frequent military exercises near Taiwan: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting frequent military exercises near Taiwan, increasing the risk of escalation in the Taiwan Strait.
  • Forceful reunification: Some analysts believe that China, under President Xi Jinping, is preparing for a forceful reunification campaign by 2027.



The impact of a cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan on India


  • Disruption of trade: India’s trade through the South China Sea (SCS) accounts for nearly 55% of its total trade with the Indo-Pacific region. A conflict in the Taiwan Strait could severely disrupt this trade, affecting India’s economy. Additionally, trade with Taiwan, China (India’s second-largest trading partner), East Asia, and some Southeast Asian countries would also be severely impacted.
  • Strategic implications: As a member of the Quad, India would face serious strategic consequences in the event of a cross-strait conflict. New Delhi would be expected to respond in support of its partners, particularly the United States, which may lead to a significant shift in the regional balance of power and India’s international commitments.
  • Escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC): India’s involvement in a conflict over Taiwan may prompt China to escalate tensions along the LAC, leading to an increased risk of military confrontation between India and China. This would put additional pressure on India’s military and resources, as it would have to prepare for a potential two-front conflict.
  • Diplomatic challenges: India’s involvement in a conflict over Taiwan would strain its diplomatic relations with China and complicate its foreign policy priorities in the region. New Delhi would have to balance its commitments to its allies and partners with the need to maintain a stable relationship with Beijing.
  • Economic costs: The economic fallout from a cross-strait conflict could be considerable for India, with potential disruptions to supply chains, investment flows, and regional economic integration efforts. This could hinder India’s economic growth and development objectives in the short to medium term.
  • Security concerns: A cross-strait conflict could lead to increased military deployments, escalations, and proxy conflicts in the region, raising security concerns for India. This would necessitate greater vigilance and preparedness from the Indian military and intelligence agencies to address potential threats.
  • Humanitarian consequences: In the event of a large-scale conflict, India may face the challenge of responding to humanitarian crises resulting from displaced populations, refugees, and the disruption of essential services in the region. This could put additional strain on India’s resources and infrastructure.


India’s likely responses


  • Military response: India could assist partner countries, including the US, by sharing experience and intelligence on dealing with the PLA. It could also offer its mainland for refuelling aircraft and access to its Andaman and Nicobar Island bases.
  • Diplomatic response: India could participate in a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Chinese aggression.
  • Economic response: India is unlikely to impose targeted sanctions on China due to the negative trade balance between the two countries.



India’s proactive measures


  • Information sharing: India can establish a secure communication channel with Taiwan to exchange vital intelligence and real-time information on Chinese military movements and strategies. This would help Taiwan to better anticipate potential threats and improve its defensive capabilities.
  • Training Taiwanese armed forces personnel: India can secretly collaborate with Taiwan to train its armed forces personnel in specific operations and tactics. This may include joint exercises and training programs in areas like counterinsurgency, mountain warfare, and special operations, which could enhance Taiwan’s military preparedness.
  • Consultative mechanisms: India can set up consultative mechanisms with Taipei, Tokyo, and Washington to discuss and coordinate their strategic approaches towards deterring a Chinese attack on Taiwan. This collaboration can lead to the development of joint strategies, contingency plans, and a coordinated response in case of a conflict.
  • Strengthening defense ties: India can explore options to strengthen defense ties with Taiwan by providing it with military equipment, technology, and logistical support. This could help Taiwan build a more robust defense system and deter potential Chinese aggression.
  • Economic diversification for Taiwan: India can play a significant role in helping Taiwan diversify its trade and economic dependencies away from China. By increasing bilateral trade, investment, and technological cooperation, India can provide Taiwan with the scale it needs to reduce its overdependence on Beijing.
  • Soft power diplomacy: India can leverage its soft power and cultural ties to build stronger relationships with Taiwan, promoting people-to-people exchanges, educational collaborations, and cultural events. This would not only strengthen the bond between the two countries but also raise awareness and support for Taiwan’s cause on the international stage.
  • Encouraging international support: India can work with its allies and partners in the Quad, as well as other regional and global forums, to build a broader coalition supporting Taiwan’s sovereignty and security. By advocating for Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations and platforms, India can help raise its global profile and encourage other countries to support Taiwan in the event of a conflict.




  • While India would face challenges in the event of a cross-strait conflict, it is crucial for New Delhi to plan for the inevitable and proactively consider its military, diplomatic, and economic responses to such a crisis.

Mains Question

Q. There are signs of potential cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan. In this backdrop discuss its impact on India

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