Chinese delegates have ‘strongly encouraged’ India’s participation in Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), during a debate “China and India’s Nuclear Posture and Practice” organised by Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing in June. It effectively means India acceding to the treaties. The debate was attended by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace experts, Indian and Chinese delegates. The delegates from India included Admiral (Retd) Arun Prakash, Lt Gen (Retd) PK Singh, Srikanth Kondapalli, Rajeswari Rajagopalan and Commodore (retd) C Uday Bhaskar. The Chinese side was represented by Pan Zhenqiang, Yao Yunzhu and Rear admiral Yang Yi.
Clearly sidestepping its supply of nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan, its role during Indo-Pakistan conflicts and presence of nuclear tipped missiles which can logically hit India, the Chinese experts claimed surprise when Indians displayed skepticism toward China’s nuclear intentions. When one Indian expert argued that, for India the nuclear issue remains central to Sino-Indian security relations, the Chinese responded with so called China’s minimal nuclear force structure and absence of Chinese nuclear threat to India. Another Indian analyst argued about 60 nuclear weapons targeting India, which was refuted by China. The expert stated that the Chinese have 400 nuclear weapons, while Chinese claimed that they had just 100. Indian experts held the view that Chinese nuclear arsenal is a concern as the country’s strategic Doctrine is ‘unclear.’ At the same time, they said that the Indian doctrine remains in a draft and is evolving.
Indian’s raised questions on Chinese No First Use (NFU) stance which says that the country might consider nuclear retaliation if its nuclear facilities are attacked. Indians also alleged that Chinese were diversifying to tactical nuclear Weapons hence it is not purely defensive. Chinese denied existence of tactical nuclear weapons and claimed that NFU was varifiable as they had small arsenal size.
One Indian expert said that India could consider nuclear weapon use if attacked by biological or Chemical weapons. He cited Chinese role in Pakistani nuclear ambitions and said that India and China can focus on cooperation on nuclear terrorism and ‘proxy nuclear powers.’