NSG, China-Pakistan economic corridor on table during Modi-Xi meeting

Hangzhou (China), Sep 3 (IANS) India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and its concern over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are expected to be raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou here on Sunday.

Though India is set to push for structural reforms to shore up the flagging global economy, poverty and green finance among others in the forum of the world’s largest 20 economies, Modi will once again try to persuade Xi to back India for membership of the 48-member NSG — an exclusive grouping that controls global nuclear trade.

In June, Modi had, during a meeting with Xi in Tashkent on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, asked for China’s backing for India’s NSG membership.

But China, leading a group of 10 countries, blocked India’s entry at the plenary of the NSG in Seoul in June, citing New Delhi’s non-signatory status to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. Beijing has, however, been a keen backer of Islamabad’s entry to the bloc.

Intransigent then, Beijing now looks amenable to India’s admission into the elite grouping.

Modi is to reach Hangzhou, the capital and most populous city of Zhejiang Province in east China, on Saturday evening to attend the two-day summit that begins on Sunday.

Chinese experts hope the meeting between the two leaders would be “good”.

“We are not against India’s entry into the NSG. After the Chinese Foreign Minister’s (Wang Yi) visit to India (in August), the two sides have agreed to establish a new channel to touch upon all these kind of issues,” Hu Shisheng, director, Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a government think tank, told IANS.

He was referring to the new “mechanism” between India and China under which Joint Secretary of Disarmament Division Amandeep Singh Gill and Ambassador Wang Qun, Director-General of the Arms Control Division of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, will discuss the NSG issue.

“It’s because not to let these issues bother the top leaders (Modi and Xi). Earlier, they could not reach understanding because of lack of information. I hope the meeting would be good,” he added.

Asked if China would be more open to India’s admission to the NSG, Hu said: “Of course”.

The change in Beijing’s stance may also have to do with a UN court ruling on the South China Sea dispute in July. The rejection of Beijing’s claims over the so-called Nine Dash line — almost 90 per cent of the disputed South China Sea — was a blow to China in its dispute with the Philippines, as also Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. China has rejected The Hague Court’s ruling.

India asking the “parties concerned to show utmost respect to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has sort of miffed China”, which is worried about its image being sullied in the world.

It has been suggested that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to India last month was to ensure that New Delhi does not raise the South China Sea issue at the G20, in a sort of quid pro quo deal — which could see Beijing giving its backing for the NSG membership.

However, even if India keeps quiet on the issue, the US and Japan are highly likely to bring it up, much to the embarrassment of China which has said an emphatic no to “political discussion” at the G20.

The $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is also likely to figure in the meeting between the two leaders.

India has strongly opposed the proposed economic corridor which will pass through Pakistan-held Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, which New Delhi claims as its own.

Modi’s reference to the two regions, as well as Balochistan, in his Independence Day speech has Beijing worried. Beijing fears New Delhi’s tacit support to the separatist sentiment in the region — a charged levelled by Islamabad and denied by New Delhi — may hit the already-delayed project.

Chinese experts have warned that China may come to Pakistan’s aid if India creates trouble in these regions.

Besides, global structural reforms, inclusive growth and climate financing will be the major issues to be brought up by India at the summit.

“There will be emphasis on appealing to the countries to carry forward the commitment to the issue of climate change and climate change finance. There was a $100 billion commitment which has been made by developed countries — that $100 billion is nowhere near sight. We would like to again stress the importance of developed nations making available that $100 billion,” Shaktikanta Das, Economic Affairs Secretary told IANS earlier.

(Gaurav Sharma is the Beijing-based Correspondent for IANS. He can be contacted at sharmagaurav71@gmail.com, gauravians@yahoo.com)



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