China today cautiously backed India-Japan nuclear deal signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Tokyo visit, saying all countries are entitled for peaceful use of nuclear energy if they meet the international non-proliferation obligations.
Beijing also reacted mildly to the references to South China Sea in the India-Japan joint statement, reiterating its earlier stand that countries outside the region should respect efforts made by China and other contestants to resolve the dispute.
“With regard to nuclear agreement signed between India and Japan and on the use nuclear energy, we believe that under the promise of absorbing international obligation of nuclear non-proliferation, all countries are entitled to the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media briefing here.
“At the same time, the relevant cooperation should be conducive to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime,” he said.
Contrary to the write-ups in the official media here prior to the recent signing of the civil nuclear deal, Geng made no reference to the media criticism of Japan selling its nuclear technology shedding its past objections.
Japan has traditionally adopted a tough stand on proliferation issues having been the only victim of atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
India is the first country which has not signed nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with which Japan has signed the civil nuclear agreement.
China opposes India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), citing India’s refusal to sign NPT.
An article in the state-run Global Times earlier criticised Japan for relaxing its rules to sign civil nuclear deal for India and said that selling nuclear technology to New Delhi will “taint Tokyo’s reputation of advocating for a nuclear weapons-free world”.
About the reference to the South China Sea in the joint statement issued at the end of Modi’s visit, Geng said “under the concerted efforts of the countries in the region including China, the situation in the South China Sea is developing in a positive direction”.
“We have been repeating that we should come back to the right track of peacefully resolving the relevant dispute through negotiations and consultations.
“We hope that the countries outside the region would respect efforts made by countries in the region and safeguard as well as consolidate the sound momentum in the South China Sea and and do more that is conducive to regional peace and stability,” he said in a cautious response.
On the South China Sea, the joint statement issued by India and Japan said “the two Prime Ministers stressed the importance of resolving the disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the UN Convention on Law of Sea (UNCLOS)”.
Ahead of Modi’s visit, another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China hopes that India and Japan would take into consideration the “legitimate concerns” of their neighbours.
China claims the whole of South China Sea. Its claims are disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.