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Assessment of Adversarial Comments on India and China’s Position on Denial of India’s Entry into the

C3S Paper No. 0093/2016

The editorial in the mouth piece of Chinese Government the Global Times carried on June 28 2016[i]has the effect of setting the cat amongst the pigeons.  The editorial which is full of inanities and unwarranted innuendos accuses both India and the West of joining hands against a law abiding China which is only going by the rules. China has every reason to be concerned about the response from angry Indians who see China as orchestrating its responses to stymie the growth of India. The perception of many Indians is that this is an envious China that is finding it difficult to come to terms with the growing stature of India in international relations. An India that is with all the support from major and minor powers.  China asserts that it went by the rule which needs the applicant to sign the NPT. While China is a signatory to the NPT, it has quietly gone on to support the nuclearisation of Pakistan and North Korea. No one has forgotten the activities of Dr A. Q Khan who was a known proliferator. He was also in the news recently when on the 18th anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear explosion, he claimed that Delhi could be targeted within five minutes[ii].It also tried take shelter in the fact that some of the actions of China related to non-proliferation in respect of its help to Pakistan were done before it became a signatory to the NPT instrument. Pakistan’s top Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz[iii]  has even claimed credit for blocking India from getting the NSG membership and the local media in Pakistan gloats about the letter written by Nawaz Sheriff to some seventeen world leaders that stalled the Indian entry.

China is also peeved that India became the member of the MTCR though China’s application is pending since 2004[iv]. Global Times has maintained that the MTCR denial to China did not cause ripples in China unlike in India where the non-admission to NSG brought out strong anti-China sentiments. China looks at these developments as being partial to India.The Global Times has concluded that India is “a golden boy in the eyes of the West (despite its low share of GDP at 20% of China’s) having competitive edge and more potential compared to China”.

 It would be clear to observers even in China that just “money can’t buy love” in international relations. However, the Global Times has lauded the Indian Government for behaving decently and willing to communicate; while some of the “Indians are too self-centered and self –righteous”. It advises “Indian Nationalists to learn how to behave themselves” when India is aspiring to be a major power and should learn how major powers play their games.

The balanced article by Ambassador Shaym Saran in the Hindu[v] while analyzing the entire sequence has pointed out that China’s hardening of the stand has many reasons including its own power status as compared to 2008 when India was given a waiver. He also includes the importance of One Belt One Road and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Pakistan for furthering China’s strategic ambitions and also an effort to put India and Pakistan in the same basket to bring down the importance of India as a growing power as main reasons for opposing the NSG. On a pragmatic note, Shaym Saran has concluded that “We should take advantage of the NSG experience to carefully assess these changes, their impact on India and fashion an appropriate response strategy. That is more important than the pursuit of NSG membership”

Assessment of the Editorial and the Chinese position

It is clear that China is on the defensive and is going all out to defend its position about blocking the entry of India in the NSG. It has reiterated that this was more to do with the provisions of NPT.  It also says that China was not the only one to be blamed as there were nine others who did not go with the Indian request to be admitted to the NSG. India has maintained that the objection by others was more procedural and without the Chinese stiff resistance would have been cleared.

The non-admission of China in to the MTCR has hurt China though its frustrations have not been made public. While the Global Times maintains that it did not cause ripples in China, the fact is that if an application for MTCR is pending since 2004 is a matter of concern to China which looks at India as overtaking China in acquiring high end technology in missiles, drones and such like. This would also change the military balance in terms of its all-weather friend Pakistan in the sub-continent is a significant factor of concern to both China and Pakistan.

By praising the Indian Government and recognizing Indian Government’s position China has allowed enough leeway for future negotiations. It also does not want extreme measures to be initiated by India either on its own or in collusion with western powers. India can choose to pay China in the same coin by opposing its entry in the MTCR which is pending for more than 12 years. The developments in South China Sea are unnerving for China and despite public utterances by the Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo during the Shangrila Dialgoue in Singapore on 05 June 2016 where he stated “We do not make trouble but have no fear of trouble”[vi]. Notwithstanding this statement, it is clear that China would be unwilling to get in to war with any one over the disputes. Its preferred action is to engage the disputants in bilateral discussions and also provide economic incentives to the countries to win them over. The complete discussion on the developments in South China Sea is carried in South Asian Analysis Group [vii].It would be unrealistic to expect India to suddenly close its doors to the economic /political/strategic engagement with China just because of the NSG opposition. India’s position has already been strengthened by the initiative of Australia and Mexico who have started the dialogue process for making it feasible for India to enter the NSG[viii]. India itself is optimistic about its admission by the end of this year itself though it would mean a lot of hard work behind the doors with all major players including China. Within India, many are circumspect and are questioning the need for such proactive approach when the waivers given in 2008 already are adequate to go ahead with the nuclear power plans. India would need to carefully examine its options in terms of its engagement/disengagement with China. What this incident has also demonstrated is that China will not compromise on some of the issues where it feels that its core interests are threatened. So whether it is the South China Sea, or Taiwan or Tibet, or the Sino Indian border disputes China will not yield to any pressure either individually by a country or by a collective action as in the South China Sea. The hardening of the Chinese position will cause considerable global tension and the prospects in the coming years are indeed gloomy.

With the stiff opposition to India’s entry by China, India can be expected to initiate its own counters in areas where it has a say. In addition to a definite Yes to blocking China’s entry in to the MTCR group here is a list that can be acted up on. These may also be read along with the analysis by the author in South Asia Analysis Group in its paper number 2016[ix]  on the eve of the NSG meet that did not favour India.

The One Belt One Road(OBOR) initiative on which India has not been enthusiastic can now be put in cold storage indefinitely. There were no tangible benefits for India in a unilateral imitative of China which served only its economic and strategic objectives in the present century.The author’s argument of why OBOR is not at all good for India is available in SAAG paper Number 1996 and also reproduced in Indian Defence Review[x]India needs to reach out to more countries in Asia, Africa and Europe to draw investments and wean away from China. The excessive dependence on Chinese goods even at the low end needs to be avoided by promoting our own industry in a big way to at least meet the domestic demands. This will indeed be tough but a proactive policy to support the SMEs and MSMEs who can provide indigenous products as part of the Make in India initiative should slowly replace the Chinese dependence in a time frame of about ten years.

The military modernization and shortfalls have taken a huge hit due to various factors including corruption in high end deals, strong lobby’s preventing indigenization and Make in India initiative. These need to be fast tracked with greater transparency and user involvement. There is a need to have time bound R&D projects with realistic assessments and sound project management.

The strengthening of the infrastructure in our borders should take a top priority . Simultaneously, there is a need to look at scientific environment friendly ways to mine our own nuclear material in Arunachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh to become self-sufficient in nuclear power aspirations. The uranium reserve in Tummalapalle  is supposed to contain the largest reserve of uranium in the world[xi].

The entire exercise  is something that should not be aimed at China( though it will be a  major factor in the calculus) but, in building capability and capacity in the coming years to be recognized as a world power that can stand up on its own  and protect its long term interests.


[i]  Full editorial of Global Times which highlights the official stand of China through the Government mouth piece.Accessed on 28th June 2016

[iv] Details of the efforts of China to obtain MTCR entry highlighted in the report accessed on 28th June 2016

[vi]  statement by the Chinese Admiral during the Shangrial Dialogue made on 05 June 2016. Accessed on 28th June 2016

[vii] Full paper available in South Asia Analysis Group and also the Chennai Centre for China Studies website

[viii] the setback on NSG, Australia and Mexico have taken the lead to engage others who opposed the deal and to work on modalities for granting India the NSG entry. Accessed on 29th June 2016

[ix] The full paper by the author is available in SAAG and also C3S websites.

[x] The paper originally carried in South Asia Analysis Group and Chennai Centre for China Studies was reproduced by IDR

[xi] as brought out in Wikepedia accessed on 29th June 2016

[Commodore R.S. Vasan IN (Retd) is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), and Head, Strategy and Security Studies, Center for Asia Studies (CAS).]

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