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Enough is enough: India tells Chinese Foreign Minister

September 9, 2008

Saurabh Shukla, INDIA TODAY
New Delhi,  September 8, 2008
 
'Enough is enough' was the message for China when the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met Indian leadership on September 8.
 
The Chinese foreign Minister's visit comes at a juncture when a new low has crept into the Sino-Indian relationship following Beijing's negative attitude at the nuclear suppliers' group meeting in Vienna. The waiver opens the doors for nuclear commerce with India, which was not allowed earlier.
 
While Jiechi met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday for what was a businesslike conversation, sources say that Manmohan was candid in sharing his disappointment over the Chinese stand in Vienna.
 
But the tough talk reportedly happened during his meeting with the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Insiders say it was conveyed to the Chinese, at the one-on-one meeting between the two that China's conduct at the nuclear suppliers' group meeting was not helpful, and was not in tune with the growing Sino-Indian relationship.
 
Last week, when India was faced with a crunch situation at the nuclear suppliers' group meeting in Vienna, Beijing created hurdles, and when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to speak to the Chinese President Hu Jintao, he was not available for the call, which infuriated India.
 
While India summoned the Chinese envoy to issue a demarche over the weekend, it was finally the US President George W. Bush who spoke to the Chinese President Hu Jintao which forced Beijing to back off.
 
Opinion was divided in the Government over how to hand over a terse message to the Chinese.  Sources say an upset India nearly called off a call on by Jiechi, on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but eventually considerations of a visit by the Prime Minister to Beijing for the Asia Europe Summit Meeting on October 24 prevailed and it was decided to let him meet the Prime Minister.
 
However, an expected call on the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was not cleared.
 
At the meeting of the 45 member nuclear watchdog in Vienna,  China had resorted to delaying tactics to stall the deal, and then absented itself from the final meeting after US helped in rallying around support for the deal, along with countries such as UK, France, Russia and NSG chair Germany.
 
What has irked New Delhi that this was despite Beijing's assurance at the highest levels to both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi that they will not come in the way of the waiver at the nuclear suppliers group, it came out against the deal.
 
"China's true colours have been exposed again, despite best attempts to instill trust in the relationship their actions only vitiate the relationship," remarked a senior South Block official.
 
Chinese Foreign Ministry had issued a statement on the NSG waiver which was not entirely positive, that relevant cooperation should be conducive to safeguarding the integrity and efficacy of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime," .
 
Insiders say that while some of the European countries like Austria and Ireland had raised objections to the NSG waiver raising a principled stand because of domestic laws and strong stand on non proliferation, but in the case of China the resistance was purely on the political ground for opposing the deal for India.
 
Analysts believe China with its dubious record of nuclear proliferation to Pakistan and North Korea certainly could not preach lessons of non proliferation to India.
 
Despite public proclamations of a new warmth in the bilateral relationship, and a booming trade that is touching USD 25 billion the two neighbours have had an uneasy relationship. India has protested at almost 140 intrusions by the Chinese troops into India territory this year. Last month, in the middle sector the two countries almost reached a conflict situation and a subsequent flag meeting was equally stormy with the Chinese warning India that its action would have "dangerous consequences.
 
The two countries share the longest boundary dispute in the word, and the aggressive posture by Beijing has made matters worse. Earlier too China's string of pearls strategy to encircle India and its all out efforts to sabotage efforts to expand the UN Security Council has not helped matters.
 
While India's efforts to tame the dragon have not been helpful, it now needs to balance its China policy with a carrot and stick approach, while it should continue to engage China, but it should be firm in its dealings besides leveraging issues such as Tibet and Taiwan which it has kept on the back-burner.
 
It should also factor in its new strategic relationship with the US in its China policy, along with other like minded countries because often diplomatic niceties are construed as weakness which seems to be the big bane of India's China policy.
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