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Scenarios for Cross-Strait Tensions: An Indian Interest

Executive Summary

This assessment on tensions between People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan discusses three possible scenarios relevant for Indian policymakers and analysts. The first scenario of status quo between PRC and Taiwan is best suited for India. Maintaining this status quo requires a two-pronged policy of deterring the PRC, while cautiously engaging with Taiwan but also discouraging ambitions for independence. Second, Taiwan declaring independence will change status quo and would destabilise Indo-Pacific. Hence, New Delhi should dissuade Taiwanese officials from moving in the direction of independence. If Taiwan still declares independence, India’s diplomacy should seek to contain escalation.

Lastly, if China invades Taiwan, it might result in three distinct potential war scenarios. A decisive PLA campaign that ends with ‘reunification’ and a protracted conflict involving regional and extra-regional powers are not ideal scenarios for Indian interests.

A short and indecisive conflict is likely the best-case outcome from an Indian perspective. In this case, New Delhi should ideally join the international community in condemning the PRC’s aggression, while refraining from military signaling.

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