Taiwan and the exile Tibetan community share a unique relationship amalgamated by the nexus of China, historical baggage, the relationship between the United States, China and India, and the growing influence of Tibetan Buddhism. The recent high-level meeting between the new Sikyong (political leader) of the Tibetan exile government and Taiwan’s India representative for the first time in a decade is an embodiment of the complex nexus of the relationship.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers Tibet an intrinsic part of Chinese territory, which it has controlled since the early 1950s. When the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered the region in 1951, Tibet was sparsely connected, both internally and with China proper. Today, it is well connected by a comprehensive network of highways, railroads, and air routes. This dual-use infrastructure (along with China’s recent military modernization and ongoing PLA reforms) helps China to manage the threats emanating from its unresolved border dispute with India, which is the PRC’s secondary strategic direction after Taiwan and the Western Pacific. Infrastructure development also supports China’s efforts to maintain internal stability within the restive Tibetan region.