By Gaurav Sharma

Beijing– China on Monday said it has not changed its position on India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), indicating it will again block New Delhi’s plea at the plenary session in Bern next month.

“China’s position on the non-NPT members’ participation in the NSG has not changed,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.

“We support the NSG group following the mandate of the 2016 plenary session and following building consensus as well as the intergovernmental process that is open and transparent to deal with the relevant issues in a two-step approach,” she added.

At the NSG’s plenary session in Seoul in June 2016, China opposed India’s application. It again scuttled India’s bid in the November consultative group meeting.

The plenary meet of the 48-member elite grouping, which regulates global nuclear trade, is likely to take place at Bern in Switzerland in June.

India has been backed by the US and other members in the group, but China opposes its entry, citing its non-signatory status to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Beijing argues that if India can be let in why not Pakistan, which is also not an NPT member.

India finds the NPT discriminatory in nature. The US, Switzerland, Mexico, Italy, Russia and Britain have backed New Delhi’s NSG bid.

In January this year, China had said that admission of non-NPT signatories in NSG cannot be a “farewell gift” for countries to give to each other — after the outgoing Obama administration remarked that Beijing was an “outlier” in the efforts to make India a member of the elite nuclear club.

China’s opposition is likely to increase tensions with India, which recently boycotted Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative in opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

CPEC passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is claimed by India as its own.

The issue of the Dalai Lama visiting Arunachal Pradesh has added to the cold vibes between the two.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting secessionist activities in Tibet and claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own. (IANS)