Indian Decade

China Likes India-Pak Game

China’s planned nuclear reactor sale to Pakistan is, it seems, aimed at keeping India on its toes.

While the US has at least proclaimed its intent to consider India on its own terms and not as a part of the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, not so China, which has responded to the US nuclear deal with India by announcing its intention to supply two power reactors to Pakistan. And, as always, India has been left fumbling around in response.

The Chinese and Pakistanis were livid over the Indo-US nuclear deal, which they fear gives India access to more domestic uranium for making bombs. The US refused a similar deal for Pakistan citing its notorious proliferation history, especially AQ Khan’s ‘nuclear Wal-Mart’. Pakistan looked for help from China, its all-weather ally, and after some dithering China is apparently ready to risk facing US and world opprobrium by exporting the two reactors.

At the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group meeting in New Zealand, China argued that the reactor sales are grandfathered from its previous atomic deal with Pakistan that came before it joined the NSG, so it doesn't need permission for the new deal.

India hasn't for its part initiated a vigorous diplomatic response toward China, but instead brought up its reservations during the recent visit of President Pratibha Patil to Beijing. China responded unconvincingly that the deal met both China and Pakistan’s international non-proliferation obligations. Since India’s official reservations were leaked to the press, however, public opinion has once again turned against China, frustrations that the Manmohan Singh government doesn’t wish to fan. But there’s no let up in China’s strategic assistance to Pakistan against India, and in China’s reckoning, the India-Pak ‘hyphen’ is alive and beneficial.