China for ‘strategic balance’ in S. Asia

Elite club:Agni-V at Rajpath in January 2013. Its successful test signals India’s entry into the club of nations that have developed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.— FILE PHOTOSandeep Saxena  

China on Tuesday called for “preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia”, following India’s successful test of the Agni-V ballistic missile.

“China always maintains that preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries and beyond,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, without mentioning Pakistan.

UN restrictions on India

In her regular press briefing, Ms. Hua also signalled that there are restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council on India for developing nuclear-capable missiles. “We have noted reports on India’s test-fire of Agni-V ballistic missile. The UN Security Council has explicit regulations on whether India can develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons,” she observed.

The successful test of the Agni-V inaugurates India’s entry into the small club of nations that have developed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM).

The missile, with a range above 5,000 km, can carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes, three times the minimum weight of an atomic warhead. It is also more survivable to a counterstrike, as it is mounted on a TATRA truck, which imparts mobility to the weapon-system. Nuclear missiles launched from fixed silos can be more easily targeted.

The spokesperson stressed that India and China, as emerging economies, were not rivals but partners. “We also notice reports, including some from India and Japan, speculating whether India made this move to counter China. They need to ask the Indian side for their intention behind the move. On the Chinese part, China and India have reached an important consensus that the two countries are not rivals for competition but partners for cooperation as two significant developing countries and emerging economies,” she observed.

Ms. Hua pointed out: “China is willing to work alongside regional countries, including India, to maintain the long-lasting peace, stability and prosperity of the region.”

She added: “We also hope that relevant media can report in an objective and sensible manner and do more things to contribute to the mutual trust between China and India and regional peace and stability.”

Responding to China’s statement, Vikas Swarup, spokesperson at the Ministry of External Affairs, said: “India’s strategic capabilities are not targeted against any particular country. India abides by all the applicable international obligations and hopes that all others do the same. India’s strategic autonomy and growing engagement contributes to strategic stability.”

( With inputs from Kallol Bhattacharjee )

India and China

are not rivals

but partners

for cooperation,

says Beijing