On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted birthday wishes to Chinese president Xi Jinping on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. A day later, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar flew to Beijing on a two-day unannounced visit, to win over the recalcitrant neighbour as it is opposed to India's entry to the elite NSG (nuclear suppliers group) club membership.
Though, Chinese strategy would be revealed during the plenary session of the NSG scheduled to meet in Seoul on 23-24 June, where India's inclusion will be discussed, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj hinted at a thaw. Swaraj said China was not opposed to India's entry, but had concerns over some procedural issues.
“China is not opposing membership of India in NSG, it is only talking of criteria and procedure. I am hopeful that we would be able to convince China as well to support our entry to the NSG," External Affairs minister said. We told them to talk about our credentials than the criteria (of inclusion into NSG), she added referring to Jaishankar's visit to Beijing.
Interestingly, Modi is again likely to meet XI Jinping in Tashkent where he is going to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit which coincides with the Seoul plenary meeting where NSG issue will be taken up. Modi had already sought Russian President Vladimir Putin help in convincing the Chinese to back India's case.
India's entry to the NSG will help in taking a call on meeting its energy needs though a waiver has been given to it in 2008 on technology tranfer. “It's like sitting outside the room when a decision is taken, when we get membership, we would be inside,” Swaraj explained during a press conference here on two years of NDA government.
She argued that difference between 2008 and now was to do with New Delhi's INDC commitments (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) to climate change as India has committed that 40 percent of its energy needs will come from non-fossil fuels, while one thirds of it would be from the nuclear energy. India's entry would inspire investors' confidence and end uncertainty, the minister explained. She expressed hope that there was a consensus and India would be able to get a place at the high table.
As the NSG, which was set up after the India nuclear test in May 1974, works under the principle of unanimity and requires all countries to agree, Modi government was wooing all members. Hinting at the aggressive diplomatic exercise being carried out for the bid, External Affairs minister said she has been in contact with 23 nations, two raised concerns, which were also addressed to.
As the India's bid for NSG membership has led to Pakistan also filed a similar application, there was effort by the New Delhi to de-hyphenate from the situation. Swaraj said as India was not a NSG member it cannot comment on Islamabad's entry and role. "But we will not oppose entry of any nation to the NSG. We think that the application of each country should be considered on the basis of their merit," she added.
China is believed to be strongly opposing India's membership at the premier club arguing that it was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).