China on Wednesday said that if its nuclear commerce with Pakistan did not violate laws and international responsibilities, then it was a case of “normal trade” between neighbours.
Moreover, Beijing conforms to all international obligations on nuclear non-proliferation prescribed by the United Nations, the foreign ministry said, indicating that China’s record in this area is impeccable.
The ministry was reacting to a new report by King’s College, London, which contended the scale of Beijing’s involvement in Islamabad’s strategic nuclear industry was “so substantial that it must be concluded that the Chinese state is either complicit in supplying Pakistan’s programmes, or negligent in its control over state-owned enterprises”.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular news briefing: “We have seen this report. What is mentioned in this report sounds so true but it doesn’t hold water because it evades a fundamental question that is whether all the exports China made to Pakistan violates China’s legal and international obligations, whether it is UN resolutions or bilateral agreements.
“If relevant exports do not violate our domestic laws and China’s legal responsibilities, then no matter how many goods we export to Pakistan, it is normal trade between two friendly neighbours,” he added.
Titled “Pakistan’s strategic nuclear and missile industries”, the report prepared by Project Alpha of the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College said Beijing was helping Islamabad to build its nuclear arsenal. It also questioned China’s sincerity about non-proliferation of nuclear arms and its moral authority of being part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The report added: “Our analysis shows that China continues to aid Pakistan’s missile programmes through repeated sales of sensitive dual-use technology. If Beijing has intended for these exports to be clandestine, it has failed in its tradecraft. If Beijing is unaware of the extent that its state-owned enterprises are supplying Pakistan’s missile industries, then it has failed in its oversight.”
Beijing reacted to the report with sharp words, with Lu saying: “As for our exports and non-proliferation policies, China is always responsible in this regard and in past several decades we have established a very effective legal framework. We adopt catch all controls and list management. This is world class management system.”
The report had alleged that Islamabad maintains a network of at least 20 trading companies in mainland China and Hong Kong, besides Dubai and Singapore, to “covertly funnel dual-use goods to its strategic programmes”.
Lu said China would deal with any such company if it is discovered.
“With regard to whether any Chinese enterprise violated the law or our international obligation in pursuit of their own interests, once they are discovered we will deal with them seriously in accordance with law. I can say for sure that there is no other country round the world that can declare 100% sure that they do not have such enterprises,” he said.
Without naming the think tank, Lu said: “If the think-tank is interested in China’s non- proliferation export controls then I suggest to them, read carefully China’s relevant regulations and they can compare the lists and relevant laws and see whether we violated the system.”
Lu did not stop at that. “If they have other ulterior motives I suggest they rest their case and already did.”