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India's NSG bid will touch raw nerve in Pakistan, endanger China: State media

world Updated: Jun 14, 2016 17:23 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Pakistan is on course for having about 350 nuclear weapons in about a decade, the world's third-largest stockpile after the US and Russia and twice that of India. (AFP file photo)

India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will touch a “raw nerve” in Pakistan and “jeopardise China’s national interests”, the Chinese state media said on Tuesday against the backdrop of Beijing’s opposition to New Delhi’s candidature.

Making India a member of the elite nuclear trading club could also trigger a nuclear race in the subcontinent, the state media said.

China has spearheaded the move to block India’s bid to become a member of the NSG, a group of 48 countries that control access to sensitive nuclear technology. 

The state media piece said China’s reason to block the move is to maintain peace or the “security dynamic” in the region. 

Without saying it officially, China has clubbed India’s bid with the application of its “all weather ally” Pakistan to become an NSG member. If India as a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) can become an NSG member, so can Pakistan - that is probably China’s not-so-subtle argument. 

Expectedly, the state-controlled media are talking about India’s NSG bid in not very enthusiastic terms and clearly supporting China’s – and Pakistan’s – argument against New Delhi joining the club. 

“India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers in the region, keep alert to each other's nuclear capabilities. India's application for NSG membership and its potential consequences will inevitably touch a raw nerve in Pakistan, its traditional rival in the region,” said an opinion piece in Global Times, a tabloid from the stable of the Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily. 

It added: “As Pakistan is not willing to see an enlarging gap in nuclear power with India, a nuclear race is a likely outcome. This will not only paralyse regional security, but also jeopardise China's national interests.” 

The piece said India’s motive behind joining the NSG and the US’s reason to support the bid miss “concerns” about regional security. 

“Beyond cooperation in the nuclear sector, Washington views New Delhi as a balancing actor in its pivot to the Asia-Pacific strategy. Its supply of nuclear technologies to enhance India's deterrence capability is to put China in check,” the piece said. 

“What is missing in US and Indian motives are concerns for regional security. So far, South Asia is still facing the harsh reality that the region is mired in nuclear confrontation.”

The author, Wang Wenwen, did not mention how China has been instrumental in building Pakistan’s nuclear sector and Islamabad’s role – often termed dubious by experts – in the proliferation of sensitive nuclear technology. 

The article also did not mention India’s main argument for joining the NSG – to meet its increasing need for clean energy. 

“India has its own calculations for joining the NSG. Eyeing retaining the fastest growing economy tag, India's access to the NSG, a body that regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for India's domestic nuclear energy program. Meanwhile, with the support of the US, India can advance its development in this regard,” the article said. 

“China insists on peaceful development. A peaceful regional and global environment is in the interests of all stakeholders. China's concern about India's inclusion into the NSG comes out of the security dynamic in South Asia. Only when New Delhi and Islamabad take another step forward in their non-proliferation commitments can the region avoid being dragged into a nuclear confrontation,” it said.