By: Liu Zongyi Source: Global Times Published: 2020-03-08
Chinese vessel Da Cui Yun has made Indian headlines once again. According to the Hindustan Times, Hong Kong-registered cargo ship Da Cui Yun with China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited, bound for Port Qasim in Karachi, Pakistan, had been detained by Indian security and customs authorities at Deendayal Port, Kandla, Gujarat on February 5.
India claimed it had received intelligence that the vessel was transporting cargo that could be used to make nuclear missiles. After the ship docked, Indian port authorities conducted a search and found a so-called industrial dryer, which Indian authorities said can be used to manufacture long-range missiles. However, other equipment related to manufacturing missiles was not discovered.
On February 20, the Chinese vessel was released after being forced to hand over the "industrial dryer." But the matter did not end here.
When the Chinese company was considering how to claim compensation from India through legal channels, the Hindustan Times reported on Thursday that "scientists from India's Defence Research and Development Organisation who examined the heavy industrial equipment confirmed that the equipment could be used for the manufacture of very long-range ballistic missiles or satellite launch rockets." Indian officials also said India's national security authorities could notify the UN pursuant to relevant Security Council legal instruments to expose the nuclear proliferation nexus between China and Pakistan. At this point, India's efforts to deliberately turn the incident into another diplomatic dispute and to blackmail China were fully exposed.
The focus now is whether the "industrial dryer" could be used for both civilian and military purposes. According to the manufacturer of the equipment, a private company based in Shandong, the equipment is not an "industrial dryer," but rather a heat-treating furnace system which is mainly used in the production of rubber products such as tires for large construction machinery, anti-collision airbags used at shipping ports, rubber liquid storage tanks, and rubber pipes. It's not a dual-use item covered by China's nonproliferation export control regime.
The private company in Shandong has no ties to the Chinese military. The company's Pakistani clients also have nothing to do with the military. Anyone with common sense knows that if China wanted to aid Pakistan's weapons and equipment manufacturing, it would not ship equipment through Indian ports. This move by India is a direct insult to China. It seems India could even determine that a steel plate exported by China to Pakistan is a piece of equipment used in the manufacturing of Pakistani missiles.
China is a signatory on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Over the years, the country has upheld the treaty. As a major responsible power, China has fulfilled its international nonproliferation obligations and global commitments. In contrast, while India continually refuses to sign the NPT, it has made every effort to fabricate facts to accuse China of violating the treaty. It seems that India is following an agenda that involves using the Da Cui Yun incident as leverage to get the US, France, and other Western countries to pressure China so that India can be allowed to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
NSG membership has been an India dream for years, but India wants to join the group without signing the NPT. The NSG was originally an international organization established by the US aimed at restricting India. In 2005, the US signed the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in order to woo India to join the US' containment on China, which marked departure from the basic principles of the NPT. The US double standard on the Indian nuclear issue has impacted regional stability and the nuclear nonproliferation regime in South Asia, placing enormous pressure on those countries which insist on upholding the NPT.
China has worked to establish a new relationship with India, one that is between two major developing countries, and one that features principles based on "no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation." China hopes to realize the goal of "dragon and elephant dancing together." However, should India's diplomatic and strategic circles continue to repeatedly test China's bottom line, it would surely harm the future development of the informal summit mechanism between China and India.
The Da Cui Yun incident has revealed the arrogance of the Indian government and its governing Hindu nationalists. To consolidate its supremacy in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, India not only has resorted to every means to discredit, isolate and crack down on Pakistan, but also has been trying to act as a "police officer" in the Indian Ocean.
Last year, the Indian Navy blatantly expelled a Chinese scientific research vessel on the high seas near the Andaman Islands, and this year India created an excuse to seize the Da Cui Yun vessel. China must firmly counter India's provocative actions, and Chinese companies must seek compensation through legal channels.
The author is visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China