China on Thursday sought to insulate bilateral ties with India from the headwinds originating from the on-going debate on New Delhi’s entry into the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. In response to a question, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that a decision on the inclusion of new members to the NSG was still pending. “We believe that with regard to NSG’s inclusion of new members a decision shall be made through thorough discussion within the group”.
She added: “We do not believe that it is an issue concerning the bilateral relationship between China and India.” The Hindu reported from Seoul that the >NSG is reconvening for a special session on Thursday night, where a discussion on India’s membership is expected. Diplomatic sources in Beijing confirmed that India’s case for NSG membership will be discussed during the meeting in Seoul.
Ms. Hua praised the “more and more significant role” that the two countries are playing in international affairs. She added that the leaderships of the two countries were steadily advancing the relationship. “The bilateral relationship between the two countries continues to maintain a sound momentum of growth thanks to the mutual visits by the leaders of the two countries. She stressed that President Pranab Mukherjee had recently paid a paid a “very successful” visit to China. Analysts say that during the visit, President Mukherjee had made a strong case for India’s membership to the NSG.
The spokesperson said that Chinese President Xi Jinping was going to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Tashkent summit of the Shanghai cooperation Organisation (SCO). “We believe that the series of exchange of visits will deepen our strategic consensus, strategic mutual trust and chart the course of the future development of the bilateral relationship.” In tune with the signals from China that India’s membership to the NSG was not imminent, the state run Global Times ran a fourth op-ed within a week - this time written by a scholar from a US based think-tank - opposing both India and Pakistan’s entry to the NSG. “China is right to stand firm on opposing Indian NSG membership, but not because it would be unfair to allow India entry and not Pakistan.” Hyphenating India with Pakistan, Sharon Squassoni, senior fellow and director of the Proliferati on Prevention Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies argued: “ Both India and Pakistan have a long way to go to prove their commitments to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. China should lead the way toward setting strong standards for new membership in the NSG that reaffirm the basic objectives of the NSG.”