Two weeks after the Indian and Chinese top leadership agreed to address sensitive issues dogging their bilateral ties, Beijing on Friday appeared poised to once again oppose India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), saying there was "no change" in its position on Indian's bid. China's oft-stated position came as the 48-member elite grouping was holding an important plenary session in Berne.
India, which has been engaged in getting support from member countries to get itself a berth in the grouping, was not very hopeful as sources in New Delhi said Beijing's position was "strictly policy based" and no major power was likely to exert pressure.
Talking to reporters here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: "As for non-NPT countries being admitted to the group, I can tell you there is no change in China's position."
During his June 9 meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the SCO, Chinese President Xi Jinping had stressed that the two sides should "address major and sensitive issues".
Modi had conveyed that both nations "should enhance cooperation and coordination in international affairs and deal with sensitive issues between the two countries".
During the briefing on Friday, Geng said "the NSG has clear rules on expansion and the Seoul plenary made clear the mandate on how to deal with this issue. With these rules and mandates, we need to act as they dictate.
"As for the criteria regarding admitting new members, this plenary meeting in Switzerland will follow the mandate of the Seoul plenary and uphold the principle of decision upon consensus, and continue to discuss various dimensions like technical, law, legal and political aspects of non-NPT countries admission to the group."At the NSG plenary session in Seoul last year, China had rejected India's application for entering the bloc, citing its non-signatory status to the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
NPT is a requirement to become the member of the grouping, which regulates global nuclear trade. India finds the treaty discriminatory. Beijing's move at this year's plenary in Berne is likely to be on expected lines.
"China is firm on opposing Indian's bid based on our non-NPT signatory basis. Form what I understand, no major power is likely to pressure Beijing on this. They believe China's position is strictly policy-based," sources in New Delhi said.
The NSG works on the principle of consensus and all members have a sort of veto to block any proposal in the grouping. China's persistent opposition has emerged as a major stumbling block to India's bid, which has the support of most countries, including the US.
Beijing says if India is let in, then its "all weather" ally Pakistan too should be allowed admission. Islamabad too has not signed the NPT. On Thursday, India had said it was in touch with NSG member countries over its application for membership.
"The NSG meeting is going on. Our application for membership is under consideration. We are in touch with all the NSG member countries," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said at a briefing in New Delhi. The NSG meeting began on June 19 and is to conclude on Friday.