Why China is wary of n-deal, but will go along

September 4th, 2008 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) There are differences among Chinese policymakers and strategists on the India-US nuclear deal, but Beijing will support a waiver for New Delhi in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in return for “some deal,” say leading experts and China-watchers. “The Chinese foreign ministry has distanced itself from the article in People’s Daily which was extremely critical of the nuclear deal. We should go by the Chinese government’s position which seems to be positive,” Mohan Guruswamy, a leading expert on China, told IANS.

“We should not think of China as a monolith. There are divergences in China on this issue. The hawks in the military are not in favour of China supporting the India-US nuclear deal,” he said.

“The Chinese military is unrelenting in its hostility towards India. The military sees India as a future threat and a future American ally. The article in People’s Daily may have been planted by the military,” suggests Guruswamy.

He was alluding to a article published Monday in People’s Daily - the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party - that attacked the nuclear deal as “a major blow to the international non-proliferation system.”

The next day, the Chinese foreign ministry went on a damage-control exercise. “China hopes the NSG finds a way to strike a balance between nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful use of energy,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing Tuesday.

Beijing, however, made it clear that global nuclear cooperation “should be conducive to maintaining the integrity and efficacy of the international non-proliferation regime.”

New Delhi is hopeful that Beijing will not stand in the way at the 45-nation NSG that met again in Vienna Thursday to consider a “clean exemption” for India from the existing rules of global nuclear commerce.

Srikanth Kondapalli, a China expert at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), sees this divergence as an instance of “shadowboxing between the Chinese Communist Party and the foreign ministry.”

“Hawks in China are opposed to the nuclear deal as they see as part of the larger US design to contain Beijing,” Kondapalli said.

Kondappali also hinted at some sort of deal the Chinese may be mulling in return for supporting India in the NSG. “India has already conceded to China on Tawang (a town in India’s northeastern Arunachal Pradesh which is claimed by China) issue by agreeing that settled populations should not be disturbed in a final solution of the boundary dispute. They may want more concessions in return for support in the NSG,” he said.

“Quid pro quo is part of international diplomacy. The US, too, will have to make concessions to China for its support for this initiative,” he said.

“It was the US which brought China into the NSG in 2004. China will also not like to upset the US by blocking this important deal,” he underlined.

K. Subrahmanyam, a leading Indian expert who has advised
the government on negotiations related to the nuclear deal, argued that the US’ influence on China will ensure Beijing does not block the deal by making impossible conditions that could become deal-breakers.

“Now founders of the NSG and promoters of the NPT are arguing for getting India inside the nuclear tent as it will make the non-proliferation system truly international,” said Subrahmanyam.

“I don’t think the China will block the nuclear deal in the NSG as they don’t want to upset the growing India-China relations which are in their favour,” Subrahmanyam told IANS.

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