India, China talk disarmament but mum on NSG

The low-key bilateral dialogue is a platform for both sides – grappling with the NSG impasse and other nagging diplomatic problems – to find common ground on disarmament and security.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2018 07:38 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Beijing, Hindustan Times
India,China,NSG
An Indian paramilitary officer is framed by an Indian (L) and Chinese (R) flags as he stands guard near the presidential palace in New Delhi.(AFP FILE)

India and China held the fifth round of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Dialogue here against the backdrop of Beijing continuing to block New Delhi’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) citing proliferation issues.

The low-key bilateral dialogue is a platform for both sides – grappling with the NSG impasse and other nagging diplomatic problems – to find common ground on international disarmament issues.

The countries exchanged views on developments related to disarmament, non-proliferation, nuclear issues and the role of science and technology in international security, disarmament and outer space, the Indian embassy said in a statement.

“Both sides underlined the importance of the bilateral dialogue as an important mechanism between the two countries for consultations on important issues,” it said.

The statement was silent on India’s NSG bid.

The Indian team was led by Pankaj Sharma, joint secretary (disarmament and international security affairs) in the external affairs ministry while the Chinese side was led by Wang Qun, director general of the department of arms control at the foreign ministry.

The first dialogue under this mechanism was held in 2015 but there is little evidence of China diluting its stand on India’s entry into the 48-member club that controls global trade in nuclear material and equipment.

China has repeatedly said it will not support India’s entry to the NSG till the bloc evolves a universal formula to accept applications from countries that haven’t signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). China has suggested a two-step approach for such countries – evolving a universal formula and then taking up each country’s applications.

It is seen as an attempt by Beijing to tie India’s case with that of its “all-weather ally” Pakistan, which too has not signed the NPT. Analysts say China is keen that Pakistan joins NSG despite Islamabad’s suspect proliferation record.

India has in the past said that expect for China, all NSG members are in favour of its candidacy. India also has no plans to sign the NPT as a pre-condition to joining the NSG, the government told Parliament in March.

More bilateral visits are slated this month. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and national security adviser Ajit Doval are expected in China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in the coastal city of Qingdao in June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

India and Pakistan joined SCO, established in 2001 to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking to Afghanistan, last year. The bloc has since expanded to include trade and security.

First Published: Apr 10, 2018 21:13 IST