The advantage of an authoritarian style of governance is that an opinion can be changed, if found not in the interests of the nation in the matter of twenty four hours, unlike the necessity to satisfy each and every stakeholder, say in case of a democratic nations. The two articles appeared in the ‘Global Times’ the nationalistic tabloid of China reflect another significant point with respect to the content, tone and tenor of these two columns. Both columns about India’s entry into NSG, albeit contradicting one another, were nationalistic with a capital N.
The first column ‘India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself’ was in fact a column posted as an observation, to be seen as a comment from the traditional jingoistic point of view. In this, the author advocated that including India in NSG would affect the ‘nuclear balance’ with Pakistan as it touches a ‘raw nerve’. Wang Wenwen, the author lent a piece of his mind to both India and Pakistan that they should first commit to non-proliferation so that nuclear confrontation could be avoided in future. All this, in the name of how China insists on peaceful development.
One point that was common to both columns was that US is trying to help India to counter China in Asia Pacific region.
Where the second column by Fu Xiaoquiang, a research fellow at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations differed with the first one was in ‘perception’. The issue was perceived in a totally different way. Fu concentrated on the economic requirements of US, considering new business opportunities of the increasing Indian market, especially the nuclear one. However, he acknowledged the ‘countering China’ factor that could be the ‘added advantage’ to US, if the situation evolves as they planned.
The way he reasoned that other allies of US, who eye a pie in the Indian market are also supporting the US initiative, from pure economic sense.
Despite the observation that India aims to obtain an edge over Pakistan in terms of nuclear capabilities, it was felt that if India’s entry into NSG is accepted, the same facility may be extended to Pakistan also. The political acumen of Fu was so good, he choose not to deliberate further on Pakistan’s entry, which may deviate the course of the discussion.
Indian media responded to both these columns with the regular euphoria that analyses from their positions on the party that rules India, a byproduct of democratic nature. Most of these observations on the second column, for they acknowledged its authenticity, was that ‘ China may help/accept India’s entry into NSG, but India should ‘play it by the rules’.
Here, the rules mean signing NPT or CTBT. But, I don’t think anyone in Indian think tank are even remotely considering to be part of signatories to both treaties. Narendra Modi can never even think to sign any or both of these treaties, only for the fear of offering an issue to the Congress that had already made noises on how Modi misguided the nation on NSG. Even if he wanted to take Congress into confidence and proceeds to sign treaties, it will take two to three years for the process to be fulfilled. So, obviously India is not going to sign either NPT or CTBT, but want a seat in NSG, through another way, that may be unique, for the door will close before Pakistan pushes it to open.
Does the Chinese recognise the fact? Yes. They do recognise the fact that India is not Pakistan. China may want an India that will not enter into a race with China, whether in conventional armament or nuclear. Period. Then, they also do take cognisance of the fact that traditionally, India and China existed together without any conflicts, over millennia. The only aberration was 1962. And both current governments understand the carrying the baggage of 1962 only slows the pace of relations that may define the future course, for both nations.
When Wang thought entry of India into NSG will touch a raw nerve of Pakistan and imbalances the nuclear capabilities, he was wrong. For a country that was borne out of the ‘collective suffering of guilt by the Muslim aristocrats, who thought they represent the Mughals, Pakistan’s existence – for as long as it exists, will remain ‘anti India’. For India, however, Pakistan is one of many neighbours, albeit the most irritating one. And India never tries to race with Pakistan, simply out of superiority complex that was bolstered with the widely spread Indian diaspora. More so, though Pakistan was traditionally an ally with China and was a ‘valued friend’ in the aftermath of 1962, China was wary of Pakistan – even as its only Muslim province creates havoc in mainland. With the ever expanding radical version of Islam dominating internal and external affairs of almost all nations, China cannot pretend it was immune from that threat. It will not take more than one inflammatory speech by one mullah after Friday prayers to condemn Chinese, for the atrocities against Uyghurs, perception of China in the eyes of average Pakistani would take a one-eighty degree turn. In such instance, the roads they built through Pakistan to reach western shores would only help the crowd of gun tottering jihadists to enter China, from the west.
On the other hand, India, despite its not so best relations with all other neighbours, was better placed to be a reliable partner, especially considering the increasing market being a lucrative one. Already India had moved away from China towards US and Japan. Is Xi, whom Modi congratulated warmly on his birthday not matured enough to see the writing on the wall?
Given the way China helped Pakistan clandestinely in becoming a nuclear power, if US or Japan wanted to partner with India, would never stands a chance in stopping India, from acquiring the technical support it wanted. In such scenario, where China would be? All alone in South China Sea, where ships of US, Japan, Australia and India would be conducting military exercise. Of course, China may conduct exercises in the Arabian Sea with Pakistan, but the world would note the futility of such one. So, the latest decision to offer an olive branch to India, was the result of a much debated discussion.
The first indication of China’s recognition of this fact came two weeks ago, when for the first time Chinese media aired a documentary stating the fact of Pakistani hand in the attacks on Mumbai in 2008. That was a premonition of sorts, for the things that are going to come out.
Finally, on India’s part it would be good to accept the olive branch, for it serves no purpose to squabble with China, but a wastage of otherwise useful resources. The increasing business between both big neighbours would act as a counter to provide otherwise uncertainty that clouds the South East Asia.
It is good to see how Fu ended his column and the end is reproduced here.
“Beijing welcomes New Delhi playing a role as a major power in global governance, including producing positive effect in a nuclear non-proliferation organization. As long as all NSG members reach a consensus over how a non-NPT member could join the NSG, and India promises to comply with stipulations over the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons while sticking to its policy of independence and self-reliance, China could support New Delhi’s path toward the club”
Unlike other experts of main stream media, who saw it as a rider, I see this as an acceptance on China’s part – though in an ambiguous way, for diplomacy would never be based on a single line. There shall be more demands or requests from China that India may need to accept or concede before India becomes part of NSG.
India and China need one another to counter any other factor that is not as much Asian as these two countries are. For, it is a known fact that ‘US chooses its allies only based on its needs’ is the best tagline for India and China to learn from US. After all, if the foreign policy is not serving national interests, it is redundant and may be thrown into the dustbin. And national interest of both India and China should be governed by economic interests, and not by dogmatic principles.