New Delhi: India’s efforts to secure China’s backing for its membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as getting the chief of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) designated as a terrorist by the United Nations (UN) seems to have met with no success with Beijing on Monday saying its stand on the two key issues “remains unchanged”.
“As for India’s application for NSG and listing issue pursuant to resolution of 1267 (to list Masood Azhar as a terrorist), China’s position remains unchanged,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beijing, the Press Trust of India reported.
The comment comes in the wake of Indian foreign secretary S. Jaishankar on Friday saying that New Delhi and Beijing should respect each other’s strong sense of independence and legitimate aspirations while seeking accommodation and building trust.
Referring to the key areas of divergence between the Asian giants Jaishankar said these were “paradoxical because we actually hardly differ when it comes to principles”.
Differences include India’s membership of the NSG that China objects to; efforts by India to include terrorist group JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar on a UN ban list that China has opposed; and China going ahead with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor despite India’s objections, given that it runs through disputed Kashmir region.
Jaishankar made the remarks at the India-China think tanks’ forum meeting in New Delhi, organized to generate strategic trust between the two countries India and China whose relations are marked by mutual suspicion due mainly to an unsettled border dispute and China’s close ties with Pakistan.
China has twice blocked India’s attempt to gain NSG membership this year. It has also twice refused to back India’s attempts to get Azhar declared a UN-designated terrorist.
Both the nations have held two rounds of talks on India’s NSG membership at the level of experts. But Geng’s comments show China is in no mood to relent.
India has linked its NSG bid to its quest for clean energy as per its commitments to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, China seems not to have budged from its position that India, which has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, cannot join the NSG.
Added to this, China has ignored India’s concerns about a $46 billion investment in the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir that India says is part of its territory.
On Jaishankar’s remarks that China should respect each other’s legitimate aspirations, Geng said as major developing countries it was natural that two countries need not see eye-to-eye on every issue.
“Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and India the strategic cooperation between the two sides have made all round progress,” he said.
“The two sides have been moving towards establishing a more closely knit strategic partnership for cooperation. As two major developing countries it is only natural for us to not see eye-to-eye on all issues, but the mainstream of the bilateral relationship is cooperation and the two of us are staying in communication on relevant issues,” he said.
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said he did not see any breakthrough on the NSG issue. “China would not have taken such a public position against India’s membership if there was any plan to draw back,” he said.
PTI contributed to this story.