China says willing to discuss 'possibilities' with India on NSG membership

Published: October 10, 2016
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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) guides Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a meeting room in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, May 14, 2015.  PHOTO: REUTERS

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) guides Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a meeting room in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, May 14, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

China is willing to discuss “possibilities” with India on its bid to become a fully fledged member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, holding out an olive branch ahead of a summit in India.

India last month said it had held “substantive” talks with China on its attempt to join the NSG, a 48-member grouping of countries that trades in civil nuclear technology.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is campaigning to join the NSG to back a multi-billion-dollar drive to build nuclear power plants in partnership with Russia, the United States and France, and reduce India’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

Yet his bid to win accession to the group, founded in response to India’s first atomic weapons test in 1974, has failed to win over strategic rival China, which enjoys a de facto veto because it operates by consensus.

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Speaking to reporters ahead of a visit to India this week by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging nations, Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said new NSG members needed to be agreed upon by all existing members. “These rules were not set by China,” Li said.

“On the issue of joining the NSG, China and India have all along had very good communications, and (China) is willing to have further communications with the Indian side, to increase consensus,” he said. “On this, China is willing to jointly explore all kinds of possibilities with India, but this must accord with the charter of the NSG, and certain rules need to be respected by all sides,” Li said, without elaborating.

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The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognises the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – as nuclear weapons powers but not others. India has ruled out signing the NPT but says its track record of non-proliferation should entitle it to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organisation’s decision making.

Backers of India’s NSG bid, who include the United States, hope a deal can be reached despite a setback at the group’s annual meeting in Seoul in June. Xi will also visit Bangladesh and Cambodia on his Asian trip. The BRICS group of emerging nations include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Raj - USA
    Oct 10, 2016 - 9:46AM

    As I said in my comments sometime ago, India will sign NPT as a nuclear weapons state that will allow it to keep its nukes. This would satisfy China’s requirement that only those who have signed NPT can become members of NSG. This proposal was made by Vajpayee immediately after India tested its nukes in 1998.Recommend

  • SuperNeo
    Oct 10, 2016 - 10:11AM

    Negotiation between India and China are far beyond the imagination of typical Pakistani.
    Two big economies have lot on stake.on the other hand Pakistan’s concern leftovers.Recommend

  • SB
    Oct 10, 2016 - 10:16AM

    Thanks China.. rational and matured approachRecommend

  • Tp
    Oct 10, 2016 - 10:22AM

    China can stall India for a while but it will fall in line in the end.
    But I still don’t understand what NSG will offer that India already doesn’t have from the earlier one-off waiver.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Oct 10, 2016 - 11:19AM

    @Tp:
    “But I still don’t understand what NSG will offer that India already doesn’t have from the earlier one-off waiver.”
    (1) It would allow India to sell its nuclear reactors to others if India becomes capable and willing.
    (2) It will allow India to veto Pakistan’s membership to NSG. Pakistan does not have waiver from NSG like India and will not be able to buy nuclear fuel or technology from other NSG members.

    China also requires India’s support to become member of MCTR. India became a member recently but China is not yet a member of MCTR.

    None of this would have been possible for India had USA not supported it. In fact USA took the leading role and campaigned for India and also pushed all others to support India. India should not forget this.Recommend

  • Sun Tzu
    Oct 10, 2016 - 11:25AM

    The Chinese practice realpolitik – so does Modi. After getting into MTCR Club; anti-China stance at South China; signing Logistics agreement with USA, finalizing Rafale Deal with France (with planned deployment on China border) and getting aggressive (indirectly) at UN on China’s technical hold on Masood Azhar; not to speak of talk of selling Brahmos to Vietnam and buying sea-rescue planes from Japan (unspoken – we can buy other weapons from Japan too) – the Chinese saw the writing on the wall.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Oct 10, 2016 - 11:32AM

    @SuperNeo:
    “Negotiation between India and China are far beyond the imagination of typical Pakistani.”

    Not just India, but even Bangladesh gets much better deals from China. During his visit to Bangladesh the seek, the Chinese President is expected to announce providing $40 billion in loans to Bangladesh at very low concessional rates to finance various infrastructure projects. This is almost equivalent to Pakistan’s CPEC. Bangladesh is not giving away control of any of its territory to China as Pakistan is doing in the case of the $46 billion CPEC. Recommend

  • Nav
    Oct 10, 2016 - 11:47AM

    @Tp:
    India has most of the benefits without joining NSG, because of Indo-US deal. But, by joining NSG, it become legitimized. India can now sit in an exclusive group which controls flow of Nuclear items in the world. It can get more secret technologies which is not available. For example, India’s Cryogenic engine got delayed by 25 years because it was not part of MTCR. India has to build it’s own, which involved lot of money and 25 years of time. Now, by joining it can get the armed drones technology from US, Israel, Russia and others as it is part of exclusive club. It saved around 15-20 years and money too. I am here talking about Technology transfer and not the end product. It is a 4-point agenda – MTCR, Nuclear Suppliers Groups (NSG), Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement. So, that India can be part of decision making exclusive bodies of the world.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Oct 10, 2016 - 12:06PM

    Real politic guides relations between countries, not friendship real or imaginary. Give and take is a part of diplomacy which should also seek to find common ground on contentious issues. Today economics and knowledge are the most essential ingredients for global success. Weapon systems at best can only provide some level of psychological comfort.Recommend

  • سے Shaam (Hanafi)
    Oct 10, 2016 - 3:25PM

    Pakistan needs to learn that China by blocking Azhar etc, are not doing any great favors just some lip service, where as siding with India on NSG is real quantifiable benefit for India. Chinese know it jolly well that they can’t get Pakistanis in NSG. Recommend

  • Delhite
    Oct 10, 2016 - 4:29PM

    After MCTR and NSG membership, India is after the real prize, permanent member of the UN security council!Recommend

  • Mandeep
    Oct 10, 2016 - 10:09PM

    @Delhite:
    Probably unlike, it’s a fantasy like surgical strikes or Mani Jaffna’s claim on Apple making phones in India.Recommend

  • Oommen
    Oct 11, 2016 - 8:23AM

    China betrayed Pakistan ?
    its only friend in an isolated world :-)Recommend

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