India’s NSG bid eyes to scale The Great China Freeze

RSTV Bureau
Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the President of United States of America (USA),  Barack Obama in Oval Office, at White House, in Washington DC, USA on Tuesday.PTI Photo

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the President of United States of America (USA), Barack Obama in Oval Office, at White House, in Washington DC, USA on Tuesday.PTI Photo

“The door is open. The room is there. We never said we are against who (a country). We did not target any country, India or Pakistan,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying as she fielded queries over China’s opposition to India’s entry in the elite 48-nation Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG).

Over the last 24 hours several developments have taken place putting the focus on NSG’s on-going plenary meet in Seoul.

Early on Tuesday, US once again backed India in its NSG membership bid, which had, just 24 hours ago, ran into a China stonewall. Beijing held firm that India’s bid is not even among the agenda in 5-day plenary session.

But US took a divergent view. Even as China stuck to its opposition, Obama administration urged the members of the elite club to support India’s entry.

“We believe, and this has been US policy for some time, that India is ready for membership and the United States calls on participating governments to support India’s application at the plenary session of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the press pack, adding “United States will certainly be advocating for India’s membership.”

FILE: Beijing: File phot of Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Photo - PTI

FILE: Beijing: File photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015.
Photo – PTI

And soon, reports emerged from the Chinese state-run press where it argued that any exemption to India for NSG entry should also be given to Pakistan.

“While India strives for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) inclusion, it prevents Pakistan from joining by insisting on the latter’s bad record of nuclear proliferation. Actually, the proliferation carried out by Pakistan was done by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s chief nuclear scientist, and was not an official policy of the Pakistani government,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“If the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the NSG can give India an exemption, it should apply to Pakistan as well,” it said.

This was perhaps the first time China had directly made a case for Pakistan’s inclusion in the elite NSG. China, however, officially maintains there should be consensus about admitting all members.

“China and other countries are opposed to NSG including India while excluding Pakistan, because it means solving India’s problem but creating another bigger problem. If India joins hands with Pakistan to seek NSG membership, it seems more pragmatic than joining alone,” said the article titled ‘China no barrier to India joining NSG’.

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FILE: File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo – PTI

Around the same time, the establishment at Beijing, while seemingly giving mixed signals on India’s bid, was taking a swipe at the US for backing India.

“I have not seen the US statement supporting India. But US is one of those who made the rule that non-NPT countries should not join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing in Beijing.

Seeking NSG membership to enable its participation in trade and export of nuclear technology, India is strongly asserting that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.

While India has off-late been able to garner the support of top players –United States and United Kingdom — along with Switzerland and Mexico in its bid to enter the NSG, it has been all but stonewalled by China.

While the two are yet to reach any common ground, Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with Xi Jinping on the sidelines of SCO meet this Thursday will be keenly watched as an ice-breaker.