TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to heightened tensions with China after a deadly border clash in June, an Indian news site asserted that the South Asian country should join with its Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) partners in strengthening relations with Taiwan to help keep the communist country in check.
Tensions continue to mount between India and China after the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) allegedly attacked and killed 20 Indian soldiers in the disputed border region of Ladakh in June. On Sunday (Aug. 2), Indian media outlet The Sunday Guardian posted an op-ed by Dr. Nagao Satoru, visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, arguing why it is important for India fellow Quad members the U.S., Japan, and Australia, to strengthen ties with Taiwan to deter China's belligerent actions.
The piece listed three reasons why Taiwan is key to the Quad countries' containment of China. The first is Taiwan's strategic location between the East China Sea and South China Sea.
From the Indian point of view, if Taiwan, the U.S., and Japan team up to bolster defenses in the region, China will have to allocate more of its budget and forces to the area, rather than to its border with the South Asian county. Nagao argued that Taiwan's existence as a defended independent country currently keeps China's navy in check, while unification would enable Beijing "to use its naval power far more effectively."
Second, he argued that Taiwan provides important insights into the secretive regime, such as when it warned the World Health Organization (WHO) of the dangers of human-to-human transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in late December and was well prepared for the pandemic. In the same way, Nagao wrote that Taiwan also has invaluable information for Quad member countries about China's military and economic status.
Third, the author advocated Quad states use Taiwan as an "effective diplomatic card" to respond to Chinese provocative acts, which have been on the rise since the pandemic began. For example, when Chinese warships enter waters near the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands), Japan can respond tit-for-tat by sending its warships to make port calls in Taiwan.
Nagao emphasized that the time is now to make a strategic move vis-a-vis Taiwan, as the country has come under increasing pressure from China since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016, with that pressure becoming even more intense during the pandemic. He observed that since June 2017, six of Taiwan's diplomatic allies have been poached by Beijing, leaving only 15 that still recognize the island nation.
The author warned that China's military is rapidly modernizing, tipping the cross-strait military balance in its favor. It has been especially aggressive in recent months, with aircraft carrier battle group missions, submarine patrols, and warplane flights in the Taiwan Strait.
Nagao recommended three steps Quad nations could take to strengthen Taiwan's position in the region. First, Nagao suggested they team up to support Taiwan's diplomatic allies, particularly those in the Indo-Pacific.
Second, he called in Quad countries to work with Taiwan on shifting factories away from China and to U.S. allies and friendly nations, such as India. Third, the author recommended the Quad work on shoring up Taiwan's defensive capabilities, including assisting it with developing its own defensive weapons industries, such as the manufacture of submarines.
Nagao closed by stating that all Quad nations need Taiwan to help them deal with China's "irresponsible behaviour." He then called on member countries to treat Taiwan as "an equal partner and support its efforts."