As Beijing intensifies its effort to further isolate Taiwan diplomatically, Taipei is actively but discreetly broadening security ties with regional powers beyond its long-standing relationship with the United States.
From efforts to share intelligence on China’s military with India and the prospect of engaging Japanese experts in its submarine programme, Taipei’s push is gradually bearing fruit despite sensitivities surrounding relations with Taiwan, according to government officials, military attaches and diplomats.
Apart from India and Japan, Taipei has targeted Australia and Singapore.
While the effort is being kept low-key to avoid further inflaming Beijing and adding to pressure on countries aiding Taipei unofficially, the moves mirror Taiwan’s more public “southbound” policy to deepen commercial and cultural links with the region.
It also comes amid several recent successes by China in luring away some of the few nations that diplomatically recognise the democratically self-ruled island.
While Taipei battles to keep its remaining formal allies, it is keen to deepen strategic ties with larger regional powers, sensing an opportunity as they too seek to cope with a rising China, Taiwanese officials say.
“We want Taiwan and those countries to have more in-depth understanding of the strategic or secruity environment we are in,” Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu told Reuters.
As China grows more powerful and assertive, he said “many of these countries feel the pinch and they might want to know more about Taiwan as an interest to them, rather than something they want to avoid.”
Switching ties ::
China considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. It has intensified military activity surrounding Taiwan in recent years.
El Salvador switched ties to Beijing last month, while the Dominican Republic did so in May and Panama changed sides last year – leaving Taiwan with just 17 diplomatic allies, six of which are small Pacific island states.
“None of the other regional powers will come close to what Taiwan is doing with the US,” said Bonnie Glaser, a security expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But it is clear that there are intersecting interests, and that these are being actively explored.”
Washington, like other major powers, maintains a “one China” policy that thwarts formal diplomatic relations with Taipei but remains by far Taiwan’s largest weapons supplier and most powerful international backer.
That relationship has been boosted under US President Donald Trump, whose administration is eyeing more weapons sales and is encouraging official exchanges.
According to US estimates obtained by Reuters, on average 100 US officials, including military personnel, visit Taiwan each week.
Anecdotally, the intensity of interactions is rising under the administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
India Advances ::
While security ties with Tokyo, including some intelligence sharing, have been evolving for some time, Taipei’s ties with New Delhi are rapidly growing, according to people familiar with discussions.
Unofficial military attaches have been placed within Taiwan’s new de-facto embassy, the Taipei Economic Cultural Centre, while senior Indian military officers regularly visit Taipei on ordinary rather than official passports.
Taiwan also fields military attaches unofficially in Tokyo and Singapore as well as Washington.
Taiwan’s knowledge of Chinese military deployments, including troop movements in the west of the country are of particular interest, said an Indian source familiar with ties.
“We are dependent on Taiwan because they are watching the Chinese,” the source said. “Indian serving officers regularly go to Taiwan, they go on so-called study leave.”
When asked for a formal Indian government response, a source familiar with the government’s thinking declined to comment on security cooperation, but said India’s “engagement with Taiwan is limited to economic and commercial links.
Source :- TNN
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