Taiwan to Shore Up India Ties with Representative Office in Mumbai

Taiwan to Shore Up India Ties with Representative Office in Mumbai
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Lede: Taipei has announced that it plans to expand its presence in India with a new representative office set to open in Mumbai as Indo-Pacific economics shift away from China

What We Know:

  • The Mumbai Taipei Economic and Cultural Center, acting as a Taiwanese representative office, is expected to open next year. It would be Taiwan’s third such office in India after one in New Delhi and one in Chennai.
  • According to India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi, the Mumbai office aims to facilitate and promote interactions with Taiwan in areas of trade, tourism, culture, education, and other kinds of people-to-people contacts and exchanges. This comes against the backdrop of Taiwan and India expanding business ties in recent years while both also experiencing tensions with China. Political relations have remained muted in comparison.
  • This also follows a recent visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S. where he met with President Joe Biden. The two leaders pledged increased technology and defense deals with a focus on strengthening supply chains and ironing out WTO disputes. Before that, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited India where he met with his counterpart, Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh.

The Background: Instead of expressing formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan through embassies and consulates, Taiwanese representative offices serve as de facto in-country diplomatic missions that carry out some of the essential functions. New Delhi’s office in Taipei, the India-Taipei Association, is headed by a senior diplomat. Taiwan currently has a relatively small economic presence in India, but bilateral trade has grown from about $1 billion in 2001 to $7.7 billion in 2021. Senior Indian government officials reportedly visited Taipei to meet Foxconn executives last month to pitch their country as a destination for electric vehicle manufacturing.

Likely Outcomes:

  • The new Mumbai representative office will likely serve the stated purpose of strengthening economic, cultural, and social ties between Taiwan and India. Both countries likely do not want to rock the boat in regard to China by pursuing political aims or military cooperation as the U.S. has recently signaled. This move may also give rise to Taiwanese economic cooperation with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region as supply chains further diversify in Asia.
  • Worsening relations with China have pushed companies in Taiwan and other countries to look toward other prospects in South Asia and Southeast Asia. India’s large market has been an attractive alternative for diversification in supply chains, not just for businesses based in countries pursuing a ‘de-risking’ path from China, but it has also served as a market for the export of Russian oil amid Western sanctions. Moving forward, the Indian economy will likely find increased interest as an alternative to the sharply delineated divergent global markets along the U.S.-China line.
  • With significant military alliance-building already underway in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. may be considering India’s role in countering China from a security perspective. Future proposals for defense deals and military exercises may emerge. However, India will probably still tread carefully on the path of relative neutrality in the divergent world order.


“India is not challenging the notion of one-China policy, but we would like to improve ties with Taiwan. However, that does not have any strategic or military connotation.” – Chintamani Mahapatra, founder of the Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies

“This expansion of the Taiwanese presence in India can be seen in the context of its estrangement with Beijing. The Taiwanese are looking away from China for options in terms of their investments at countries like Vietnam or India. India will be careful in not overstepping boundaries. It is cautious, and you are unlikely to see high-level political exchanges between the two.” – Manoj Joshi, distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation

Good Reads:

Taiwan to Expand Presence in India Amid Growing Economic Ties (VOA)

Scholars say Taipei's new Mumbai office will benefit Taiwan-India relations (Taiwan News)