Letting NSG and Masood Azhar get in the way of Indo-China ties. Is it worth it?

Mar 16, 2017
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar recently visited Beijing for what was billed as a new round of the India-China Strategic dialogue. Expectations that the talks would lead to a reset of the troubled India-China relations have been belied. Only a hardened optimist expected forward movement on the issues bedeviling their relations, especially India’s demand that China support its Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) membership and effort to designate Masood Azhar a terrorist under UN rules. And now, the Chinese have signalled that if India goes ahead with the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang, things could get much worse.
The reason why Sino-Indian relations are in a bad state has a lot to do with the way India conducts its foreign policy, rather than their much talked up geopolitical rivalry.
The Chinese perspective is apparent from the comment of a Chinese diplomat that India was “behaving like a kid in a candy store” in loudly clamouring for membership of the NSG. He had a point. India already has a waiver on civil nuclear trade since 2008. And in 2011, the NSG added a rule which will deny us the one thing we want—enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Is this hollow prize worth the price we are paying in derailing our relations with China?
Let’s look at the problem another way. Assume the government has good reasons for India to be a member of the NSG, the question then is: What price are we willing to pay for it? The US has not backed us for free. Not only did we agree not to conduct any more nuclear tests, we also gave verbal assurances that we would make significant purchases of US nuclear equipment. The French and the Russians, too, were promised nuclear sales. Unfortunately for the Chinese, they are being asked to support New Delhi for free.
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Hindustan Times, March 15, 2017

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