International Relations

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

India must consider its military, diplomatic, and economic responses to a possible cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan.


  • The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducts frequent military exercises near Taiwan, raising the danger of escalation in the Taiwan Strait.
  • Some analysts think that China, led by President Xi Jinping, is planning a forceful reunification campaign by 2027. 

India’s response to a cross-strait war between China and Taiwan

  • Trade disruption: The South China Sea (SCS) accounts for roughly 55% of India’s total trade with the Indo-Pacific region. A conflict in the Taiwan Strait could significantly disrupt this commerce, negatively impacting India’s economy. Furthermore, trade with Taiwan, China (India’s second-largest trading partner), East Asia, and some Southeast Asian nations would suffer.
  • Strategic ramifications: As a Quad member, India would confront serious strategic ramifications in the event of a cross-strait conflict. New Delhi is expected to respond in support of its partners, especially the US, potentially resulting in a major shift in the regional balance of power and India’s international commitments.
  • Escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC): India’s involvement in the Taiwan conflict may spur China to escalate tensions along the LAC, increasing the risk of a military confrontation between India and China. This would place extra strain on India’s military and resources, as it would have to prepare for a possible two-front war.
  • Diplomatic difficulties: Involvement in a conflict over Taiwan would strain India’s diplomatic relations with China and complicate its regional foreign policy objectives. New Delhi would have to strike a balance between its obligations to allies and partners and the need to keep a stable relationship with Beijing.
  • Economic costs: A cross-strait war could have a significant economic impact on India, potentially disrupting supply networks, investment flows, and regional economic integration efforts. In the short to medium run, this could stymie India’s economic growth and development goals.
  • Concerns about security: A cross-strait conflict could lead to increased military deployments, escalation, and proxy conflicts in the area, raising concerns about India’s security. This would require increased vigilance and readiness on the part of the Indian military and intelligence agencies in order to deal with potential threats.
  • Humanitarian ramifications: In the event of a large-scale conflict, India may be faced with the task of responding to humanitarian crises caused by displaced populations, refugees, and disruption of vital services in the area. This could further strain India’s resources and facilities.

India’s likely responses

  • Military response: By sharing experience and intelligence on dealing with the PLA, India could help partner nations, including the United States. It could also provide access to its Andaman and Nicobar Island facilities from its mainland.
  • Diplomatic response: India could support a UN General Assembly motion condemning Chinese aggression.
  • Economic response: Given the two countries’ negative trade balances, India is unlikely to inflict targeted sanctions on China.

India’s preventative steps

  • Sharing of information: India and Taiwan can create a secure communication channel to exchange crucial intelligence and real-time information on Chinese military movements and strategies. This would assist Taiwan in better anticipating possible threats and strengthening its defensive capabilities.
  • Training Taiwanese military personnel: India can work covertly with Taiwan to train its military personnel in specific operations and tactics. This could include joint exercises and training programmes in counterinsurgency, mountain warfare, and secret operations, which could improve Taiwan’s military readiness.
  • Consultative mechanisms: India can establish consultative mechanisms with Taipei, Tokyo, and Washington to discuss and coordinate their strategies for deterring a Chinese assault on Taiwan. This collaboration can result in the creation of joint strategies, contingency plans, and a coordinated reaction in the event of a dispute.
  • Strengthening defence ties: India can look into ways to improve defence ties with Taiwan, such as providing military equipment, technology, and logistical assistance. This could assist Taiwan in constructing a more robust defence system and deterring possible Chinese aggression.
  • Economic diversification for Taiwan: India has the potential to play a major role in assisting Taiwan in diversifying its trade and economic reliance away from China. India can provide Taiwan with the scale it needs to reduce its reliance on Beijing by expanding bilateral trade, investment, and technological collaboration.
  • Soft power diplomacy: By encouraging people-to-people exchanges, educational collaborations, and cultural events, India can leverage its soft power and cultural ties to strengthen relationships with Taiwan. This would not only improve ties between the two countries, but would also increase international awareness and support for Taiwan’s cause.
  • Encourage international support: India can engage with its Quad allies and partners, as well as other regional and global forums, to form a larger coalition in support of Taiwan’s sovereignty and security. India can help raise its global image and encourage other countries to support Taiwan in the event of a conflict by advocating for Taiwan’s inclusion in international organisations and platforms.

@the end 

While India would encounter difficulties in the event of a cross-strait conflict, it is critical for New Delhi to plan for the unavoidable and to consider its military, diplomatic, and economic responses in advance.

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