Days ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Goa for the BRICS Summit, China said it is ready for more talks on New Delhi’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group even as it hinted that India’s drive to isolate Pakistan could be an instance of the fight against terror being used for political gains.
Without naming India or Pakistan, vice foreign minister Li Baodong said on Monday no country should have double standards on terrorism. He was briefing reporters on Xi’s visit to India for the BRICS Summit during October 15-16.
“There should be no double standards on terrorism nor should one pursue its own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism,” Li said while answering a question on whether terrorism would come up during the summit of leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“On counter-terrorism, the five countries have consensus. The foreign ministers of the five countries reached an agreement on the margins of the UN General Assembly. We hope and believe this Goa summit will build on past consensus and continue to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism and other issues of political security,” Li said.
Li made no reference to China’s extension of its “technical hold” against India’s bid to get Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated a terrorist by the UN Security Council. It is widely believed China acted at the behest of its “all weather” ally Pakistan.
In April, China blocked India’s bid to ban Azhar, blamed for masterminding the attack on Pathankot airbase. China extended the “technical hold” on October 1, days after the terror attack in Uri, bringing into focus its stand on terrorism, which is seen in India as ambiguous or completely hinged on its close ties with Pakistan.
Li also said China is ready for more consultations with India on its inclusion in the NSG, which controls trade in nuclear technology and know-how. He added India could become a NSG member only through consensus within the group.
China was instrumental in blocking India’s bid in June, with Beijing saying the “non-proliferation regime would collapse if non-NPT countries such as India were allowed in the NSG”.
“China and India have maintained good communication (on the NSG issue),” Li said when he was asked whether the matter will come up during a meeting between Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS meet.
“We are ready to continue consultations with India on the consensus and we also hope India can go to other members of the NSG as well. In this respect, we are also ready for discussions with India to explore the possibilities but things need to be in keeping with the procedures and norms and regulations of the NSG.”
The rules of the 48-member NSG say all members must be signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has not been signed by India. Besides China, South Africa, New Zealand and Austria were among the countries that opposed India’s bid.
“When other countries apply for membership, this group will need to examine the application and it would require the approval or agreement through consensus by all members of the group and then to decide whether the new member will be taken on board,” Li said.
“These rules cannot be decided by China alone,” he added. “On this issue, China’s position has been consistent and that is why China has often said in international occasions that international laws must be observed.”