China on Tuesday kept mum on whether India’s inclusion into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was discussed during the strategic dialogue with the US, but insisted on “full discussion” and “consensus” on the issue within the elite grouping.
“Members within the group still differ on the accession of countries which are not party states to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, in a written response to a PTI query.
The ministry was responding to a question on India securing Switzerland’s support on the NSG and whether the issue figured in the Strategic and Economic Dialogue with the US.
“China stands for continuous and full discussions within the group on this issue in order to forge consensus and make a decision based on agreement,” the Ministry said, adding that it has been “explicitly” articulated Beijing’s position to the Indian media in recent weeks.
The Ministry, however, did not respond to the question whether the issue was discussed with the US during the strategic talks which covers all aspects of the bilateral ties and multilateral issues of interest to China and the US.
While the US has backed India’s inclusion in the 48-member NSG, China is reportedly supporting Pakistan though it maintains that Islamabad too is not a signatory to the NPT.
The issue was expected to figure in the plenary meeting of the NSG on June 9 in Vienna. The US-China strategic talks was attended among others by Secretary of State John Kerry.
In his remarks after the conclusion of the talks, Kerry mostly touched differences relating to the South China Sea dispute as well as mutual position on the nuclear issues relating to North Korea.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also reacted guardedly to the recent remarks by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
“China holds a consistent and clear position on the South China Sea (SCS) issue,” it said.
“While firmly upholding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China is committed to resolving disputes peacefully through consultation and negotiation, managing differences by establishing rules and mechanisms, achieving win-win results through development and cooperation, and safeguarding the freedom of navigation and overflight as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea,” it said.
“China is poised to work alongside regional countries to maintain regional peace and stability, achieve economic prosperity and share development dividends,” it said.
In his comments on the SCS, Parrikar had said, “we have traditional links with the countries in the South China Sea. More than half (of) our trade passes through its waters”.
“While we do not take a position on territorial disputes, which should be resolved peacefully without the threat or use of force, we firmly uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he added.