Observing that India and China have “a relationship which is not externally driven,” National Security Adviser (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon said here on Tuesday that China's decision to sell two nuclear reactors to Pakistan would have no bearing on the recent warming of ties between New Delhi and Beijing.
Mr. Menon, who raised the controversial deal in talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Sunday, said: “We have discussed the issue [of China's sale of two reactors] with them on two or three occasions. They have told us that what they are doing will be in accordance with their international obligations. I think we will wait and see where this is going.”
The NSA, in China as the Prime Minister's Special Envoy, held talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday. The focus of the talks — and this visit — was to explore new areas of co-operation to take the bilateral relationship forward, Mr. Menon said.
Much of the attention has, however, been on China's recent decision to sell two nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Some countries say the move goes against China's commitments as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which prohibits the transfer of technology and equipment to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The attention on the deal, according to Mr. Menon, was misplaced. “This was not the whole point of the visit,” he stressed, adding: “This took less than two and a half sentences in the whole visit.”
Mr. Menon pointedly stressed in an interaction with journalists that China's close relationship with Pakistan, its all-weather strategic ally, would have no bearing on New Delhi taking forward its ties with Beijing, despite being a source of mistrust between the neighbours in the past.
“We're no longer in an either-or, zero-sum game kind of situation,” Mr. Menon said. “Our relationship with China is not dependent on the state of our relations with Pakistan, or vice versa. And judging by what we have seen in practice over the last few years, I think that is also true of China. Nowhere in my talks was there any such linkage [made] by them, or by us.”
He said an increasing convergence of interests on the global stage, on issues such as climate change, energy security and trade, was in some sense bringing the countries closer. They had moved into “a new stage of the relationship,” where they were engaging on a broader set of issues of global relevance.