China’s Objection Signifies The Importance Of Indo-US Nuclear Deal
During his visit to China in January this year, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was given assurance by high-ranking Chinese leaders that it would back India’s case at the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) meeting. However, China came out as one of the major opponents of the proposed nuclear deal which, now, gives India an opportunity to trade in civilian nuclear technology something it wasn’t entitled to for the last 33 years.
Indian government claims that it was disappointed by the last-minute change in stance by the Chinese but it is hard to believe that the Indians wouldn’t have expected such a move. This very move shows how important this deal is and why the US administration is so keen to see it through even as some think of it as a one-sided affair, with India getting much more than it is giving back.
When first announced the deal was ‘gift wrapped’ in order to project it as a dividend for India’s clean record as far as nuclear proliferation is concerned and President Bush went one step ahead claiming that the deal would eventually help reduce the carbon emissions as the trade of nuclear technology would help India move to nuclear power plants from coal fired plants.
But the deal has never been about the sky rocketing energy consumption levels of the rapidly growing Indian economy rather it is a well thought strategic move aimed towards countering the rising might of the Chinese. There is no other Asian nation which has resources and momentum to counter China and the United States knows & acknowledges the same.
China, too, knows that. India which is currently struggling to get fuel for its reactors would now have ample supply for generating electricity which, in turn, would enable it to use its own Thorium reserves to produce weapons-grade material. India has also made healthy progress in developing latest military equipment which includes long range missiles and now also has a system to launch nuclear-capable missile from a submarine. Apparently, India is also developing an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) which would have a striking range well beyond Chinese territory. And the Indian military is in the process of forming a strategic space command which could lead to an anti-satellite missile system. All these developments are troubling from the Chinese point of view as it has always seen India as an adversary.
China is aware of the fact that being two of the most vibrant democracies in the world, India and United States seem perfect for each other as strategic allies and that a powerful India could not only challenge it militarily but economically as well. Obviously the nuclear deal would certainly be followed some crucial trade deals which would help India rise as a major economic partner of the US a position China enjoys currently.
No doubt the Indian government is disappointed by China’s last-minute efforts to derail the process of smooth passage of the proposal at the NSG meet as this means that the tensions between the two neighbors are far away from being over but the move shouldn’t surprise the Indians either rather they should prepare themselves for future roadblocks. Even after the deal is done and signed China could still influence fuel supplying countries and could hamper India’s efforts to acquire fuel for its reactors.