Prior to the Vienna meet on November 11-12, media talked of “fresh hopes for India’s NSG dreams”. Not that we have got over the curse of short memory, considering what happened during the last meet at Seoul. China’s then and current stance that she does not believe in waivers, (NPT in case of NSG membership) is hollow because China herself agreed to a waiver in favour of India during the Indo-US Nuclear Deal of 2008. The meeting in Seoul was preceded by ambiguous statements from Beijing and China lobbied against India despite Prime Minister personally discussing the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping and China signaling that “China will play constructive role” on the issue.
Though China is a signatory of NPT, her nuclear proliferation record is atrocious especially in initiating and sustaining the nuclear programs of Pakistan and North Korea.
After China’s exposure at Seoul, having any hopes about the Vienna meet was sheer utopia. More so because if China continues to veto radical mullah Azhar Masood being designated terrorist at the UN behind the euphuism of ‘technical hold’, NSG membership for India is something very big, especially given the fact that India has been admitted to MTCR while China has been denied the same.
Where China’s protégé Pakistan refuses to give land access for Afghanistan and Central Asia, China supports it wholeheartedly as she herself aims to limit the strategic space and economic growth of India within South Asia. Of course, China agreed to the waiver of India not being member of NPY in case of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal of 2008 after the issue was discussed on telephone between the Presidents of US and China. However, this time no such conversation between Obama and Xi Jinping took place perhaps because Obama was not sure Xi would respond favourably, given the backdrop of tensions in Western Pacific, China’s all round aggressive stance, snubbing the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in favour of Philippines rubbishing China’s historical claims, and China’s growing economic clout.
Despite two rounds of India-China talks on NSG membership before the Vienna meet, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman went on record to say, “We will seek a solution that applies to all non-NPT countries and then we will discuss the specific application of relevant non-NPT country. We are willing to keep communication and contact with India in this regard.”
Though China is a signatory of NPT, her nuclear proliferation record is atrocious especially in initiating and sustaining the nuclear programs of Pakistan and North Korea. In 1986, Chinese scientists began assisting Pakistan with the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium. China not only transferred Tritium gas to Pakistan for 10 nuclear weapons but also provided nuclear technology and co-opted Pakistani scientists in a nuclear test at its Lop Nor test site in 1989. The most significant proliferation activity involved China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) providing 5,000 specially designed ring magnets to Pakistan. China trained Pakistani scientists and gave them the design of the CHIC -4 device, which was a weapon that was easy to build a model for export. China tested Pakistan’s first bomb for her in 1990.
There is evidence that AQ Khan used Chinese designs in his nuclear designs.
There is evidence that AQ Khan used Chinese designs in his nuclear designs. Notes from his lectures later turned up in Libya. China dealt with Saudis, North Koreans, and the Algerians similarly. The Arms Control Association, in its latest report, ‘Assessing Progress on Nonproliferation and Disarmament Updated Report Card 2013–2016,’ says, “Despite progress on its export controls China continues to supply Pakistan with nuclear power reactors, despite objections that the sale of the reactors did not receive a consensus exemption from the NSG. Pakistan, neither an NPT member nor under full-scope IAEA safeguards, is therefore, ineligible to receive such assistance under NSG rules.”
Just before the Vienna meet, Project Alpha of the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College concluded that Pakistan has a “deliberate strategy of using deceptive methods to obtain dual-use goods”. The country also has a network of at least 20 trading companies in China, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore.
Findings of this report included: Pakistan’s continued use of front companies and other deceptive methods to obtain dual-use goods for its nuclear program; Islamabad “continues its forty-year history of covert procurement for its nuclear weapon program largely unabated” and even keeps its nuclear fuel cycle off-limits to IAEA inspection; China is the most important supplier of all forms of goods to Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs, and; China and its private entities continue to knowingly supply Pakistan’s strategic programs; this brings into question China’s adherence to the rules and requirements of the NSG group. Beijing, as expected, denied any governmental involvement and said “with regard to whether Chinese enterprises violated the law, for us, once they are discovered, we will deal with them seriously”.
China, in conjunction Pakistan, would have lobbied hard to keep India out despite the strong support by the US…
Pakistan was jubilant over outcome of the Vienna meet where some 12 NSG members at the meeting called for a criteria-based approach. These reportedly included China, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Belgium, Brazil and Russia.
China maintained that any formula worked out should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT states; without prejudice to the core value of the NSG and the effectiveness, authority and integrity of the international non-proliferation regime with the NPT as its cornerstone; and without contradicting the customary international law in the field of non-proliferation.
It was the second time in a year that an NSG plenary ended without an agreement on the question of membership of non-NPT states. That China, in conjunction Pakistan, would have lobbied hard to keep India out despite the strong support by the US was only expected. Not that China is totally indifferent to India. Just before Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan,
Meng Jianzhu, Secretary, Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the China’s CPC and member of the Politburo made a dash to India to meet PM Modi. The indo-Vietnam joint statement earlier apart from the usual references to freedom of navigation and over flight, and respect for international law, had also noted “the award issued on July 12 2016 of the arbitral tribunal constituted under the Annex VII to the 1982 UN Convention on the Laws of Sea (UNCLOS)”.
Beijing was obviously worried about the forthcoming Modi-Abe meet. Although the Indo-Japanese joint statement also mentioned freedom of navigation, global commons and UNCLOS, China’s mouthpiece Global Times later wrote that Japan will not succeed in making India a “pawn” in its anti-China diplomacy, adding that New Delhi’s foreign policy is multi-pronged and wants to benefit from both sides.
The manner in which China has managed to break any collective resistance by ASEAN to China’s aggressiveness in South China Sea using her economic prowess is just an indicator of the shape of things to follow.
What China achieves by blocking India’s NSG membership includes: hinder India’s uranium supply to some extent and access to latest nuclear technology to some extent; deny India sitting at the nuclear trade group including export of nuclear components by India; deny India build its case for a UNSC seat as an NSG member; give a royal snub to America who was fully supporting India’s NSG membership and exhorting other members to do so, and; demonstrate to the world China’s clout as an emerging “Great Power” moulding global opinions despite herself defaulting on agreements she is signatory to.
The manner in which China has managed to break any collective resistance by ASEAN to China’s aggressiveness in South China Sea using her economic prowess is just an indicator of the shape of things to follow. The demonstrated resolve of US President-elect Donald Trump to pull out from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on day one of his office will result in more Chinese clout over ASEAN.
With the strategic aims of China and Pakistan coalescing over Afghanistan and Kashmir, China’s strategic highway to the Indian Ocean via POK-Pakistan (read CPEC), China can be expected to bat for Pakistan over India at any global forum whether NSG, UNSC or any other. India will need to acknowledge this reality, including in its race for the UNSC.