BEIJING: China's official media today went public over India's NSG bid for the first time, saying New Delhi's membership of the elite club will not only touch a "raw nerve" in Pakistan and increase a nuclear arms race in the region but also "jeopardise" China's national interests.
An op-ed commentary in state-run Global Times, the first write-up on the issue since China's opposition to India's bid, said New Delhi's NSG membership will set off a nuclear confrontation in the region.
"India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers in the region, keep alert to each other's nuclear capabilities. India's application for NSG membership and its potential consequences will inevitably touch a raw nerve in Pakistan, its traditional rival in the region.
"As Pakistan is not willing to see an enlarging gap in nuclear power with India, a nuclear race is a likely outcome. This will not only paralyse regional security, but also jeopardise China's national interests," said the commentary titled "India mustn't let nuclear ambitions blind itself".
"Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a diplomatic journey, travelling halfway across the world with his top goal to garner support for his country's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)" ahead of the plenary meeting of the group expected to be held in Seoul on June 24.
"The US and some NSG members have given a push to India's membership bid, but the reported opposition from most countries, especially China, seems to have irritated India," it said.
Reports from Vienna where the NSG is based said that while majority of the 48-member group backed India's membership, China along with New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria were opposed to India's admission.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. The group works under the principle of unanimity and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid.
"Beijing insists that a prerequisite of New Delhi's entry is that it must be a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while India is not. Despite acknowledging this legal and systematic requirement, the Indian media called China's stance "obstructionist"," the commentary said.
"India has its own calculations for joining the NSG. Eyeing retaining the fastest growing economy tag, India's access to the NSG, a body that regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for India's domestic nuclear energy programme.
"Meanwhile, with the support of the US, India can advance its development in this regard," it said.
"The deliberations of the US are also clear. With India's NSG membership, the US, the world's largest producer of nuclear power, can sell its nuclear technology to India. A US company is set to build six nuclear reactors in India, an agreement made between the two countries during Modi's recent visit to the US," it said.