Indian Decade

India’s Wasted China Flattery

SS Menon went to China with flattering words. It won’t change the Pakistan nuclear deal.

In a meeting earlier this month with visiting Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made soothing noises over the much-reported impending deal under which China plans to supply Pakistan with two nuclear reactors.

Menon had come with a brief to express his country’s reservations over the deal, and Wen’s assurances are unlikely to have done anything to have impressed anyone in India with much knowledge of the issue.

According to reports, Wen said, ‘We will work with India to maintain high-level visits and take care of each other’s interests and major concerns.’ The Indian government could construe this as meaning China will go slow on the deal to export the two reactors to Pakistan, a move that has unsettled not just India, but also the United States and other members of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.

But despite the implied understanding of India’s views on the issue, China has made no specific commitment to India about rethinking the deal, which ultimately forms part of its core relations with Pakistan. China needs Pakistan both to counter pro-US India and to keep Afghanistan/Pakistan and Uighur terrorism from spilling over into its territory.

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Menon for his part passed a letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Wen praising China as a ‘great country’. Such flattery is unlikely to move the Chinese, or budge them from their position.