China-Taiwan Current Affairs - 2020

India attends 7 nation meeting initiated by USA

On May 13, 2020, the External Affairs ministers represented India at the 7 nation meeting initiated by the United States.

Taiwan

The meeting was held on the same day, the US Senate passed an act directing the Secretary of the State to frame a strategy to make Taiwan an observer at the World Health Organization.

The meeting was held to gain support from the participating nations. It includes Australia, India, Brazil, Japan, Israel and Republic of Korea.

Why is the meet significant to India?

India is to hold the chair of the World Health Organization in May 2020 after Japan completes its tenure. India will continue to hold the chair for the next three years. This comes during the time when there are world wide criticisms faced by WHO. Especially the US, one of India’s primary trading partner, accused WHO being China-centric. It is to be noted that US has also cut the funds allocated to the WHO.

Analysis

Experts believe that India has been caught in the spat between China and US. Currently Taiwan is ruled by the Republic of China (ROC). However, China claims Taiwan to be its part under its “One China Principle”. Taiwanese on the other hand want a separate land. It is to be noted that US and Taiwan have good economic and defence relations.

China’s interests in the new country Bougainville

Recently, Bougainville, a chain of islands voted for a referendum of independence from Papua Guinea. The referendum saw 85% voter turnout choosing Papua Guinea as second option. The referendum was introduced because the peace agreement signed before 20 years ended. The agreement was signed to end nine year conflict or civil war that killed almost 10% of the country’s population. Employment and land acquisition in the island by copper mines (owned by Papua Guinea, Australia and other foreign countries) were the major reason behind the war.

Implications 

The independence of the country sends strong signals to other movements across the Pacific, especially New Caledonia (a French collectivity) that is preparing itself for the second referendum. The other important message that the independence sends is for the so-called traditional partners of the Pacific namely US, UK, Australia, France and Japan. The referendum has taken place during the period when the strategic anxiety among the traditional partners of the Pacific is at its peak.

China’s interests

The prevailing situation in the Pacific is advantageous to China. China seeks to influence an independent Bougainville. The political and economic presence of china in the country has increased already. China’s support to the island will increase its support among the Pacific islands against Taiwan. It is important to note that Taiwan recently lost two of its Pacific allies this year. Australia, UK and US believe that there are possibilities of China bringing Bougainville into its debt trap diplomacy. China is also interested in Bougainville for its rich fisheries, copper, gold and other resources. Building strong ties with the country will help China increase its presence in the Pacific.