India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) has rattled not only Pakistan, but also seems have struck a nerve with China. China, has time and again maintained that non-NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) signatories should not be admitted into NSG on the grounds that it would undermine efforts to prevent proliferation.
NSG’s membership will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector. NSG’s members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology.
India’s bid for full membership, if granted, would tip the balance of power in South Asia against Pakistan, whose own application is believed to have been backed by China, despite questions over its proliferation record.
Now, Chinese media has come out with two back to back articles on how India’s entry into NSG may disturb regional peace. While one article says that China may finally decide to support India, the other cites reasons for why India’s bid should be blocked. We take a look at what Chinese media has said so far on this subject:
1) Stating that India’s entry into NSG will “shake strategic balance in South Asia and even cast a cloud over peace and stability in the entire Asia-Pacific region”, an article in the state-run ‘Global Times’ said China could support India’s inclusion in the 48 member nuclear club if it “played by rules”.
Written by Fu Xiaoqiang research fellow with the state-run think tank China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, the article a second in as many days by the same daily highlights China’s strident and vocal opposition to India’s entry into NSG and concerns that its all weather ally Pakistan will be left behind because “entry into the NSG will make it (India) a ‘legitimate nuclear power’.”
“Becoming a member of the NSG, a bloc that governs civilian nuclear trade worldwide, will grant India global acceptance as a legitimate nuclear power,” said the article titled “Beijing could support India’s NSG accession path if it plays by rules”.
2) However, vehemently opposing India’s NSG bid, Chinese official media in first comments since China’s objection has said that New Delhi’s membership will not only touch a “raw nerve” in Pakistan and increase a nuclear arms race but also “jeopardise” Beijing’s national interests.
An op-ed commentary in state-run Global Times (a tabloid daily which is part of the ruling Communist Party of China group of publications headed by People’s Daily) titled “India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself” said New Delhi’s NSG membership will set off a nuclear confrontation in the region.
“India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers in the region, keep alert to each other’s nuclear capabilities. India’s application for NSG membership and its potential consequences will inevitably touch a raw nerve in Pakistan, its traditional rival in the region.
“As Pakistan is not willing to see an enlarging gap in nuclear power with India, a nuclear race is a likely outcome. This will not only paralyse regional security, but also jeopardise China’s national interests,” said the commentary, the first write-up on the issue since Beijing’s opposition to India’s bid.
3) “Beijing insists that a prerequisite of New Delhi’s entry is that it must be a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while India is not. Despite acknowledging this legal and systematic requirement, the Indian media called China’s stance “obstructionist”,” the commentary said.
4) “India has its own calculations for joining the NSG. Eyeing retaining the fastest growing economy tag, India’s access to the NSG, a body that regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for India’s domestic nuclear energy programme. “Meanwhile, with the support of the US, India can advance its development in this regard,” it said.
“The deliberations of the US are also clear. With India’s NSG membership, the US, the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, can sell its nuclear technology to India. A US company is set to build six nuclear reactors in India, an agreement made between the two countries during Modi’s recent visit to the US,” it said.
5) Beyond cooperation in the nuclear sector, the US views India as a “balancing actor in its pivot to the Asia-Pacific strategy”. Its supply of nuclear technologies to enhance India’s deterrence capability is to put China in check, it said.
“What is missing in US and Indian motives are concerns for regional security. So far, South Asia is still facing the harsh reality that the region is mired in nuclear confrontation,” it said.
“China insists on peaceful development. A peaceful regional and global environment is in the interests of all stakeholders. China’s concern about India’s inclusion into the NSG comes out of the security dynamic in South Asia.