Beijing: China said on Wednesday it did not have a position on the entry of either India or Pakistan into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a day after talks were held in New Delhi to discuss the impasse on India’s bid.
Following Tuesday’s talks, Beijing in a statement reiterated its stand on a “two-step approach” that would first settle the issue of entry of all non-NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) countries, before addressing India’s specific bid.
Asked if this reflected China’s desire to also include Pakistan along with India, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, “China does not have a position on the accession of any specific non-NPT country”.
“China’s position is very clear,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing. “China is yet to form a position on the accession of any specific non-NPT country. But we are willing to have discussions with NSG members on the accession of non-NPT countries.”
This was a similar stand voiced by China at the NSG’s plenary in Seoul, where India’s entry was stymied.
It remains unclear whether Beijing’s reiteration of a two-step process may delay India’s entry, with Delhi earlier hoping to settle the issue by the end of the year with the NSG set to hold a special session to discuss India’s bid.
Beijing has however left the door open by agreeing to hold bilateral talks with India on the issue, with some experts suggesting that its emphasis on agreeing criteria in the first step was aimed at enabling Pakistan’s entry at a future date.
Many of the NSG’s 48 members are however unlikely to look upon Pakistan’s bid favourably considering its track record on proliferation, which is once again in the limelight following North Korea’s recent nuclear test.
On Tuesday’s talks with India, Hua said countries were “yet to agree on the accession of any specific member into the group”. “That is to say, we first need to reach agreement that applies to all non-NPT countries, then we will talk about accession of a specific country”. China, she added, will hold the next round of bilateral consultations with India between the directors-general of their disarmament departments.
Following Tuesday’s talks, Beijing said in a lengthy statement that it “wishes to see early commencement of an open and transparent inter-governmental process to undertake, in accordance with the mandate adopted by the NSG at its Seoul Plenary meeting, a comprehensive and thorough study on the question of the non-NPT states’ participation in the NSG in various aspects”.
The statement called for a “two-step approach within the Group to address the above question, i.e., at the first stage, to explore and reach agreement on a non-discriminatory formula applicable to all the non-NPT states, and to proceed to take up country-specific membership issues at the second stage.”
On Wednesday, China also announced that its State Councillor and top diplomat Yang Jiechi will travel to India on Thursday for a meeting of the BRICS countries’ national security advisers.
The major agenda for the talks, she said, included anti-terrorism, cyber security, energy security, and the situation in West Asia and North Africa.
The meeting, which will lay the groundwork for October’s BRICS Summit in Goa, underlined that the five countries were playing a bigger role in international affairs, Hua said.