One China policy is
the diplomatic recognition by other countries of China’s position that there is
only one Chinese government of People’s Republic of China (PRC), though Taiwan
- which calls itself Republic of China (RoC) - has been governed independently
of PRC since 1949. Beijing asserts that there is only “One China” and
that Taiwan is part of it. It views the PRC as the only legitimate government
of China, an approach it calls the One-China principle,
and seeks Taiwan’s eventual “unification” with the mainland.
India's One China policy refers to
its stance of recognising the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the sole
legitimate government of China, and not recognising Taiwan as an
independent state. The One China policy was first put into practice by India in 1949
when it agreed to the Chinese pre-condition for establishing diplomatic
relations between the two countries. At the time, the policy was seen as a way
for India to assert its sovereignty post-independence and demonstrate its
commitment to non-alignment and anti-colonialism. It also reflected India's
support for the principle of self-determination and its opposition to the
partition of China. This policy has been a cornerstone of India's foreign
policy towards China for several decades, but in recent years there have been
calls to revisit this policy in light of changing geopolitical dynamics.
Over the years, the One China policy has played
an important role in maintaining stability in India-China relations, even as
both countries have grown and changed in different ways. The policy has
prevented tensions between the two countries over the issue of Taiwan and
allowed both countries to focus on more pressing issues, such as trade,
security and regional stability.
However, the changing geopolitical dynamics have led
to calls for India to revisit its One China policy. The reasons
for this include:
of India’s core concerns by China
The rise of Taiwan as
a major global economic and technological power
military assertiveness and territorial claims
economic and strategic ties with the United States
The need for India to
assert its independence and defend its interests in the region
While India recognised One China policy, reciprocation
in form of ‘One India policy’[i]
from the Chinese side has remained absent. China
expected India to recognise Tibet as an integral part of China and accept the
One China policy and India did so without reservation. To the disappointment of
India, China has continued to refer Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Arunachal
Pradesh as disputed territories. China has always disregarded
sovereignty of India through its stance on PoK, Jammu and Kashmir (Aksai Chin),
Arunachal Pradesh, denial and issue of stapled visas to certain Indian citizens
and number of skirmishes on the LAC in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The latest
such act being criticising India’s abolition of Art 370 that withdrew the
special status granted to the Indian state of J&K.
has consistently maintained steadfast silence over Pakistan’s support to
terrorism and anti-India activities and has always supported Pakistan at
various international forums. Chinese support included blocking India's bid in
the UNSC to declare Masood Azhar as international terrorist as also supporting
Pakistan in The Financial Action Task Force (FATF). China’s nuclear and military supply relationship with Pakistan and its
support to Pakistan in its disputes with India can be seen as an exploitation
of Pakistan’s differences with India to serve China’s own interests. While India supported China for induction as a
permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has failed to reciprocate
India’s gesture and has done everything possible to keep India out from the
Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The rise of Taiwan as a major global economic and
technological power has led to calls for India to reconsider its One China policy. Taiwan is
now one of the largest economies in the world and is a significant player in
the global technology industry. This has led to calls for India to engage more
closely with Taiwan and to recognise its status as an independent state.
China's growing military assertiveness and territorial
claims have also led to calls for India to revisit its One China policy. China's
territorial claims in the South China Sea and its construction of artificial
islands in the region have caused widespread concern and opposition. Many countries
have called for China to respect the rights of other nations in the region.
India too, has been concerned by China's territorial claims and has sought to
defend its interests in the region, including its territorial claims in the
India's growing economic and strategic ties with the
United States (US) have also led to calls for India to reconsider its One
China policy. India has been seeking to deepen its economic
and strategic ties with the United States in recent years, in order to
counterbalance China's growing influence in the region. This has led to calls
for India to align itself more closely with the US and its allies,
which may necessitate a reconsideration of its One China policy.
Finally, there is the need for India to assert its
independence and defend its interests in the region. India is a rising power in
its own right and has a growing interest in maintaining stability and peace in
the region. However, its close relationship with China, as defined by the One
China policy, has led to concerns that India is not fully
able to assert its independence and defend its interests.
The potential consequences of revisiting India's One
China Policy are significant and complex. On one hand, it could lead to
increased tensions between India and China, potentially jeopardizing the
stability of the region and the broader global order. On the other hand, it
could provide India with greater leverage and bargaining power in its
relationship with China, allowing it to more effectively defend its interests
and assert its independence.
In order to effectively defend its interests and
assert its independence, India must consider a range of options, including
strengthening its economic, political, and military ties with other regional
powers, such as Japan, Australia, and ASEAN countries, as well as with the
United States and its allies. This would help to counterbalance China's growing
influence in the region and provide India with a stronger platform from which
to defend its interests and assert its independence.
At the same time, India must also continue to engage
with China in a constructive and cooperative manner, seeking to resolve
differences through dialogue and negotiation, and working together to address
regional and global challenges. India and China have a long history of
cultural, economic, and strategic ties, and both countries have much to gain
from a stable and cooperative relationship.
In view of China’s
position on One India policy, there is a
dire need to review India’s stand on One China policy, so that the interests of India and its sovereignty is
protected, Chinese expansionism is contained. This will also create a level
playing field especially, in areas of economic co-operation and trade deficit,
as some leverage is available with India in negotiations with China. The time
has come and India should rethink and revise its ‘One China’ policy and
exploit the geographic, ethnic, and economic fault lines of China such as Hong
Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang.
[i] The phrase ‘One India Policy’ was first
articulated by Late Sushma Swaraj, the then EAM, during discussion with her
Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi during latter’s visit to India in Jun 2014.
Source: A report by Prabal Dhal Samanta in Indian Express, 12 Jun 2014 accessed
on 27 Sep 21 at
Gp. Capt. A Dogra is the Senior Research Fellow at Centre for Strategic Studies & Simulation (CS3), United Service Institution of India (USI)
Article uploaded on 10-02-2023
Disclaimer : The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he/she belongs to or of the USI of India.