Taiwan leader welcome, but no flag please: China

By Manish Chand


Support TwoCircles

New Delhi : China has told India that it has no issues with the coming visit of Taiwanese opposition leader Ma Ying-jeou as long as he does not sport a Taiwanese flag on his car or flaunt any independent Taiwanese insignia or identity.

The Chinese embassy here will keep a sharp eye on the visit of Ma, Taiwan's presidential candidate, to India next week, the first by a senior Taiwanese leader to this country.

India has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan believes in a one-China policy.

Ma, the popular leader of Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party that has close relations with Beijing and is known for its pro-unification stance, is expected in New Delhi June 12-13, reliable sources told IANS.

Ma, who will also go to Singapore, is coming here to study India's economic reforms programme.

Although Ma would not have foreseen it, his visit comes at a time when China has upped its ante over its claims over India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Recently, China refused visa to an IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh as it has claims on the state and regards people of the state as Chinese nationals.

Ma, who is also mayor of Taipei, is seen as pro-Beijing as opposed to the pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian

In particular, Beijing would monitor Ma's lecture at Sapru House Tuesday, organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs, on India-Taiwan relations.

"As long as he says Taiwan is part of China, we have no problems. He should say Taiwan is not a country, but a state which is part of China," a Chinese official, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.

"We recognise India has good relations with Taiwan. As long as India sticks to one-China policy, we have no problems with the Indian government hosting Taiwanese leaders," the official added.

Asked if they would welcome the Taiwanese leader, a senior Chinese diplomatic official said: "Yes, if he drives into our embassy sporting a Chinese five-star flag on his car!"

India has done a deft balancing act vis-a-vis Taiwan. While not giving any formal recognition to Taiwan, its trade with Taipei is growing steadily, especially since the two decided to post trade representatives in each other's country in the mid-90s.

Bilateral trade between India and Taiwan is estimated at around $5 billion. Taiwan has recently stepped up investment in areas of IT, electronics, science and technology and plans to promote tourism between both the countries.

Over 35,000 Indians are working in Taipei, mostly in software and academics.