India, lead by prime minister Modi, made hectic effort to sway international political leaders to support India securing a seat in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). India came up against stiff opposition from China. Not only China questioned India’s credential as a nation that did not sign Non Proliferation Treaty, China also pushed case for candidacy of Pakistan. Eventually, membership of India was not discussed, at least not in the recent meeting. Though reports in media have suggested that a way may be found to facilitate India’s entry in NSG by the end of the year. This will be done despite objection / resistance from China.
As usual there have been different opinions in India on success and/or failure to obtain a seat in NSG. Some commentators have described China to be petty in her resistance. Others have blasted India for her sense of entitlement to be on NSG. I think we should consider the following points:
1. In international diplomacy on national interest is permanent. There is no permanent friendship or enmity. Every help comes with a price tag.
2. In this context, China stood by its ally Pakistan with whom it is creating a military and political alliance.
3. Pakistan has seen vivisection of Pakistani state and creation of Bangladesh.
4. China will never allow India to come out of South East Asia and play a global role. China will work to balance India with Pakistan.
5. So China cannot realistically support India’s entry into NSG, or for that matter in security council and other high global tables.
6. To be fair India has stopped Chinese entry into SAARC. Though global importance of SAARC is very limited, yet the principle still holds. Moreover, Pakistan wanted desperately Chinese membership to counterbalance Indian influence.
7. India has allied with US and Japan to challenge Chinese dominance of South China Sea. India conducts military exercise with US and Japan.
8. India has entered Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) with US help. China is not a member of the group. This has not gone down well in China, as is evident from media reports.
Given this scenario, it is unrealistic to hope China will help India to attain global high seat. Be it NSG or security council. Yet Chinese objection comes out as disingenuous when China equates India with Pakistan. It is crystal clear to everyone that Pakistan cannot be considered for a seat in NSG because of its past record in nuclear proliferation. Pakistan is a terrorist infested state. It is the only state that uses terrorism as an arm of state policy. There is no certainty about security of Pakistani nuclear materal or arsenal. By contrast, India has an impeccable record of nuclear security and nuclear nonproliferation.
India has made an effort and engage with the world to present her case. India has tried to persuade naysayers and tried to change the world order. There is nothing to be embarrassed about our effort. Only defeatists and pessimists will ridicule India’s effort. To attain something, one may have to show boldness, irrespective of success or failure and be ready to pay the price. Is India ready to pay the price? Only time will tell.