As Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in for her second term on Wednesday, BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan virtually attended the ceremony and congratulated her on behalf of the Modi government, even as China claims it as its territory. This also comes amid the ongoing global inquest into the origins of the Covid crisis, with the WHO agreeing to and China permitting an investigation. Taiwan's presence at the World Health Assembly was also a matter of question and widely mooted, though it did not eventually come about.
The BJP MPs were among the 92 dignitaries from 41 countries who had a virtual presence at the ceremony as foreign visitors are banned in Taiwan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in 2016, when Tsai was elected to her first term, the Indian government had decided against sending its MPs to Taiwan for the inaugural ceremony. This time around, the BJP MPs were also joined by Sohang Sen, the acting director-general of India-Taipei Association, who represented India at the ceremony in Taipei. India does not have an official diplomatic establishment in Taiwan, the same as 179 of the 194 United Nations members.
While they did not point out the Indian MPs, Chinese authorities slammed the congratulatory messages that foreign dignitaries sent to Tsai.
“We hope and believe that … [they will] understand and support the just cause of Chinese people to oppose the secessionist activities for ‘Taiwan independence’ and realise na tional reunification,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.
In their congratulatory message to the Taiwanese President, Lekhi and Kaswan highlighted on India and Taiwan’s shared belief in democratic values.
“Both India and Taiwan are democratic countries, bonded by shared values of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. Over the past years, India and Taiwan have enhanced bilateral relations enormously in wide-ranging areas, especially trade, investment and people to people exchanges,” said the two MPs during their video message.
In addition to this joint message, Lekhi also sent a separate message to Tsai, which was also played at the ceremony. She congratulated Tsai and wished her “great success” and also talked about “continued strengthening of the comprehensive relations between India and Taiwan”.