HONG KONG: The Chinese leadership has pulled up Wang Qun, its lead negotiator and Director General of the Arms Control Division at the Foreign Ministry, for failing to drum up significant global support for China’s position in Seoul which blocked India’s entry into the NSG.
Highly placed Western and Chinese sources said that Wang Qun had told Beijing that at least one third of the NSG nations would endorse China’s position. However, the position was totally in the reverse, with as many as 44 nations backing India and China only having the support of four nations.
Beijing now fears that the fallout of the NSG outcome could have an impact on a crucial verdict expected soon from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in a case brought by the Philippines concerning China’s territorial reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
As things stand, Beijing’s stance flies in the face of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of which it is a signatory. China’s big fear now is India could use the same ploy that Beijing used in Seoul at the NSG plenary and back The Hague Court’s decision which is likely to go against China.
Highly-placed sources said that the global support for India’s position at the NSG could well be leveraged by New Delhi to back the enforcement of The Hague Judgment – a scenario which could isolate China and could even trigger its exit from UNCLOS.
Informed sources said the focus now shifts from the NSG to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague where a judgment is expected, which when enforced, could force China to give up land in favour of the Philippines.
China has launched a worldwide propaganda campaign enlisting academics, legal experts, diplomats and foreign governments stating that such legal proceedings are invalid. But this position of China’s is contrary to the rules laid out by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of which China is a signatory. China claims that it has the support of 60 nations who believe that arbitration at The Hague is illegal.
China’s worry now is that post its inability to generate global support for its anti-India position on NSG at Seoul, its position at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague could meet the same fate, and this time, it could have to pay a very heavy price.
High-level sources said on background that Seoul’s outcome has “shocked China”. The government thought that its emerging superpower status would guarantee the support of at least 15 nations against India.
Western sources said China is “very sensitive“to possibilities of being isolated, and the developments and outcome at Seoul “came quite close to isolation“.
China is paranoid about might happen once the Permanent Court of Arbitration gives a verdict against Beijing and in favour of Philippines.
To generate global support for its position at the NSG, sources said China is silently bracing itself for a Seoul fallout which would mean an overwhelming International demand on Beijing to accept The Hague court’s Judgment and give land to The Philippines.
All of this, said sources, illustrates that China is happy to enforce the letter of the law when it suits its purpose, but is prepared to reject Internationally accepted regulations when it feels its interests are under threat. Its stand at the NSG meet in Seoul fits into that pattern.