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SOURCE: Tribune News Service

The Galwan Valley killings and the continuing tensions with China on the LAC have made a rarely mentioned word “Taiwan’’, a much used currency on social media. Indian netizens have vied to post “Happy Double Ten National Day celebrations” to commemorate the island’s separation from Beijing on October 10, 1949.

In addition, for the first time, a Taiwan President mentioned India in her National Day speech and BJP supporters hung pro-Taiwan hoardings for the first time outside the Chinese embassy in the highly protected diplomatic enclave. Right-wing publications, in particular, approvingly noted this act by a BJP IT cell activist.

China maintains that Taiwan will ultimately join the mainland and hence won’t allow any country to have normal diplomatic relations with Taipei under its “One China Policy”, which India adheres too. Hence, the Taiwanese representation here is in the form of a “trade centre” and the envoy is rarely asked to grace official events. 

A furious Beijing has inflated the number of hoardings in front of its embassy to hundreds and warned via Global Times that India’s provocation on the Taiwan question will cause an “irreversible” impact on China-India ties. The first-ever pro-Taiwan gesture in a diplomatic enclave means that Chinese diplomats here will now have to keep an eye for mischief from Tibetans as well as pro-Taiwan activists.

Taiwan’s unusually high visibility on social media, mainly powered by Indians, caused Pradeep Taneja, an Australia-India Institute fellow, to comment,  “I have never seen so many foreigners sending their best wishes to the people of Taiwan on the Double Ten national day celebrations as this year. What has changed? Perhaps it is time for introspection in Beijing”.

An online spat between Indians and the Chinese government has been on since October 7, which was also briefly touched upon by the Ministry of External Affairs. The Chinese embassy here had e-mailed advice to journalists on “properly” reporting Taiwan’s National Day. Asked about this Chinese counsel, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said: “India had a free media which would report on such issues as it sees fit”.

The MEA’s observation has provided more ballast to the hashtags #TaiwanisACountry and #TaiwanNationalDay.

India has already indicated that it will not abide by Chinese rules for developing its ties with Taiwan after tensions enveloped the LAC. India has posted an upcoming diplomat Gaurang Das, who already has prestigious stints as Americas Desk chief and in the office of the National Security Advisor, in a signal that Indo-Taiwan ties will no longer be on the backburner.