India, it appears, has had enough of China’s tantrums. According to a report in ToI, India has decided to take on China on the issue of South China Sea, something that is very close to the heart of the neighbouring country. The report suggests that last month India had proposed to Singapore that a specific mention be made of the international tribunal order that dismisses China’s rights in South China Sea. India, reportedly, wanted a mention of the tribunal order in a joint statement with Singapore. India’s wish was declined by Singapore, but nevertheless, the move signals a strategic shift.
India is miffed with China for not supporting its membership bid for the coveted Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). It is also riled that China is repeatedly blocking all attempts to get UN to list Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a banned terrorist. India’s attempts to get other countries to mention the international tribunal order on South China Sea can be seen as an attempt to send a strong message to China. While Singapore has been a neutral party with regards to South China Sea, India may now try to get Japan interested on the issue, the report added.
NSG membership will be a significant boost for India which is seeking to expand its atomic energy sector. NSG’s members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. PM Narendra Modi has been aggressively pushing for India’s NSG case because it would help the multi-billion-dollar drive to build nuclear power plants in partnership with the US, Russia and France. All three of them have backed India’s entry bid and are hopeful that a deal can be sealed without India having to sign the NPT. India has been refusing to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying that its track record of non-proliferation should be enough for it to bag the NSG entry.
Meanwhile, a report in HT said that China may soften its stand on the Masood Azhar issue. In a meeting between NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, some forward movement has been reported. China is known to make ambiguous statements and till it openly announces support for NSG or the Masood Azhar issue, India may do well to consider other ways to convince the troublesome neighbour.