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China Set to Checkmate India’s Entry in Nuclear Suppliers Group

Maj Gen RPS Bhadauria (Retd) writes: Pakistan is crucial to China as it provides geo-political and geo-strategic advantage over India and keeps it in check. Pakistan also provides access to Indian Ocean and transport corridor to its restive western province – Xinjiang.

It has been widely reported in the press that both China and Pakistan are closely coordinating moves to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). An ANI report quotes sources that “Beijing is using Pakistan’s Non Starter position with the NSG to block India’s application in the name of parity, stating that it would either support NSG entry for both India and Pakistan, or none of them.” India’s application for entry into NSG will come up for consideration at its plenary in June 2016. This move by China has not come as a surprise as it had revealed its hand in Nov 2015 itself. The Chinese government had told the visiting Pakistani President Hussain that “if India is allowed to join the NSG and Pakistan is deprived of NSG membership, China will veto the move and block the Indian entry”.

NSG, founded in May 1974, debars export of nuclear equipment, material, or technology to countries who have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India, Pakistan and Israel are the three countries with nuclear capability but have not signed the NPT. India  and USA had  signed civil nuclear deal in 2005 under which India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and to place all its civil nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and, in exchange, the United States agreed to work toward full civil nuclear cooperation with India.USA facilitated NSG to grant a “clean waiver” to India from existing rules, which forbid nuclear trade with a country which has not signed NPT. There are many technologies that India still cannot access due to Missile technology Control Regime (MTCR) and two other denial regimes, the Wassenar Arrangement and Australia Group. India’s quest for the NSG waiver is being aggressively supported by its strategic partner USA, as it has more or less assured India on its entry into MTCR in coming months. This is also a clear sign of the deepening partnership between the two countries. Pakistan on the other hand has been denied the similar treatment due to its track record of proliferating nuclear and missile technology.

China is India’s largest trading partner; both countries have cooperated in WTO and during climate change negotiations. India has also joined Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an initiative of the Chinese government. Yet the relationship is simultaneously cooperative and competitive. The duality is clear in terms of core national interests of the two civilization powers who aspire to be great powers in 21st century. Pakistan is crucial to China as it provides geo-political and geo-strategic advantage over India and keeps it in check. Pakistan also provides access to Indian Ocean and transport corridor to its restive western province – Xinjiang.  Pakistan on the other hand derives benefits in terms of diplomatic support, military to military cooperation and nuclear and missile technology. China has recently pledged $47billion for construction of China –Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The fall outs of this recent move by China are not yet clear. But it would be naïve to expect that there won’t be an Indian reaction, and especially a commercial one, as China is mindful that India is fully qualified to join the NSG, and by playing the ‘Pakistan parity card’, China risks hurting its economic interests with a neighbor who has the fastest growing economy.

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