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NSG: China’s Double Speak Exposed

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Modi in a bilateral meeting with the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan 2

China as obstinately anti-India as it ever was, except when pushing its commercial and trade interest. India might make the friendliest of gestures but China would never support India over Pakistan. This much has been as clear as daylight for the last five decades. Now Seoul cements the impression forever…writes Syed Shihabudeen

Modi in a bilateral meeting with the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan 2
Modi in a bilateral meeting with the President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan 2

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gesture of looking after the Chinese leaders during their Indian visit, talking to them while sitting on a swinging bench on the banks of the Sabarmati River might have been a great photo-op, but it led to no great diplomatic breakthrough. It had been clear from the beginning that China, acting in the interest of its close ally, Pakistan, will not relent to allow acceptance of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) when that group of 48 countries met in South Korea on June 23 and 24.

Among the other nations which had reportedly opposed India’s bid to join NSG are Brazil, Ireland, New Zealand, and Turkey. With the exception of Turkey that list comes as a surprise. Turkey under the current president Tayyip Erdogan has all but shed its secular pretensions and is fast becoming radicalised which makes it a natural friend and ally of Pakistan.

But a country like Brazil, which is part of the five-member BRICS group of nations along with India, shows the ground that needs to be covered by the time the NSG meets again in November.

It can be readily agreed that it might have been impossible to win over all the NSG member nations given the rigid position of the so-called NPT Ayatollahs. But the nation does not know if any effort was made to win over the reluctant members. We do know that the foreign secretary dashed to meet the Chinese leaders on a mission that predictably doomed.

To many it would appear somewhat strange that the NPT ‘Ayatollahs’ who turned against India, all smaller nations, stood their ground this time round when at the time of the NSG waiver for India eight years ago everyone had agreed to support India. Even China did!

It was known that India could join the exclusive club only if all the members agreed to it. Decisions at NSG are taken on the basis of ‘consensus’ which appears to be a misnomer because ‘consensus’ can emerge easily if the majority of members in a group agree to a point of view. When one member is allowed to hold it up, it is not ‘consensus’ but pure and simple veto—as in the UN Security Council.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain in Wuzhen Town, east China's Zhejiang Province (File)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain in Wuzhen Town, east China’s Zhejiang Province (File)

Prime Minister Modi is always in praise of Chinese leaders. But it led to no great diplomatic breakthrough. China as obstinately anti-India as it ever was, except when pushing its commercial and trade interest. India might make the friendliest of gestures but China would never support India over Pakistan. This much has been as clear as daylight for the last five decades. Now Seoul cements the impression forever.

There was no chance before Seoul that China would abandon the interest of its ‘all weather’ friend Pakistan by endorsing the Indian application. The China-Pakistan nexus against India is no secret. It has helped Pakistan, desperate to break out of its international isolation, to intensify its efforts to provoke and denigrate India.

Anyone aware of what the Pakistanis say about prospects of India’s joining NSG would have known that it shakes them to the bone. The Pakistani narrative is that the moment India joins the NSG its nuclear arsenal will multiply by leaps and bound and render ineffective the ‘mini nukes’ they have developed with China’s assistance for use against India.

We can let the Pakistanis shiver in their pants because that is a natural consequence of their obsession with India. It is impossible for a Pakistani to understand that India is more interested in developing nuclear power as a source of energy. China likes to play along with Pakistan as it suits its own policy of putting India under squeeze with the help of Pakistan.

NSG membership may have certain advantages for India, but if India’s main interest lies in the ability to negotiate deals for advancing the country’s nuclear civilian energy programme then NSG does not look indispensable. India can and has been able to trade in nuclear material without the cover of NSG, thanks to the waiver it received in September 2008.

Pakistan’s desire to join NSG is nothing but its continuous attempts to seek ‘parity’ with India, seven times bigger with a fast emerging economy and a rising global player. China has been continuously supplying all the knowhow and raw material Pakistan requires for expanding its nuclear facilities. China’s help to Pakistan has been in contravention of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. It is hypocritical of China to say that India becomes unqualified to join NSG because it has not signed the NPT. It is time to expose the Chinese double-speak.

 

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