Remember that incident in April 1996, about the
ring magnets? "Baseless", the Chinese thundered.
When they could not deny the sale any longer, they
acknowledged the shipment but insisted that the ring magnets were
for hold your breath -- windshield wipers for cars!
And anyone who didn't take their word for it was
part of an evil conspiracy. When no one bought that silly story,
they insisted that, whatever the ring magnets may have been for, the
sale had been made by their atomic agency without the knowledge of
the Central Government!
Even so, in May 1996, China gave a commitment that
it would not sell or in any way transfer anything or provide any
form of assistance for unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.
But just a while later, their shipment of
high-temperature furnaces and high technology diagnostic equipment
for Pakistan's Khushab plant was caught -- the Chinese had full
knowledge that Khushab is an unsafeguarded facility: they had helped
build it in the First place!
At first it was the same story: Vigorous denial,
allegations that conspirators were trying to denigrate China, which
remained a responsible nuclear State fully alive to its
responsibilities and commitments.
Within months, China changed track again: The sale
had indeed taken place, the Chinese Government now said, but it had
taken place a while before May 1996!
The sequence on missiles is exactly the same. China
was nailed exporting M-11 missile technology to Pakistan. For that
reason the US had, by its law, to impose sanctions on China.
In November 1991, China gave a verbal assurance to
the US, records the CNS website, that it would adhere to the Missile
Technology Control Regime [MTCK] guidelines.
The US lifted the sanctions. In February 1992,
China gave written assurances on this count.
But in August 1993, the US had to impose sanctions
once again as China continued the transfer of M-11 missile
technology, to Pakistan.
China denounced the sanctions as "groundless", and,
the website reports, threatened the US that it would scrap its
promise to abide by the guidelines.
In October 1994, China signed a joint statement
with the US agreeing to ban all exports of MTCR-class missiles, and
the US agreed to lift the sanctions.
But soon it was found that China continued to
transfer what it had been transferring.
"Ballistic missiles per se are not weapons of mass
destruction," its analyst wrote in an official publication, "but
rather a carrier vehicle. Likewise, fighter aircraft are also a
carrier vehicle that can carry nuclear, biological, and chemical
weapons... Limiting missile exports without limiting fighter plane
exports is clearly a double standard."
In any case, the commitment we had made was that we
would not transfer missiles, China said, but these are just
components and parts of missiles.
For reasons we shall notice in a moment, the
Clinton administration had been bending backwards to paper over what
China had been doing.
But in April 1997, even its Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State Robert Einhorn had to say, during his testimony
before a Senate Committee.
"We have had no reason to believe that China has
violated its pledge not to export such missiles. However, concerns
about transfers of missile-related components, technology, and
production technology persist, raising serious questions about the
nature of China's commitment to abide by MTCR guidelines."
At the least, said Einhorn, China does not
Interpret the commitments we think it has undertaken the way we and
other MTCR members do.
Moreover, he added, exempting the Chinese
government from being held responsible, "as we learn more about
current Chinese procedures for controlling missile-related goods and
services, we become more skeptical about the ability of Beijing's
control system to implement missile restraints effectively."
In September 1997, The Washington Post reported
that the Clinton administration was preparing to certify that China
was adhering to commitments not to export nuclear weapons-related
material to countries such as Pakistan and Iran.
"Experts say China continues to exchange, of views
on issues or mutual concern, the Prime Minister said, adding that it
has been supplemented by the exchange of views at the official
level, including the framework of the joint working group. Mr
Vajpayee said that through these exchanges India had conveyed to the
Chinese, side concerns arising from actions affecting the country’s
sovereignty, territorial integrity and security. He stated that
bilateral trade between the two countries had recorded a rapid
growth in the last few years.
Bilateral trade for 1997 amounted to $ 1.83
billion, an increase of 30.2 per cent over 1996. He said there, was
considerable Potential to expand bilateral economic and commercial
co-operation. Mr Vajpayee said the exchanges in diverse fields
including the military, have continued to develop in recent
The then Union Defence Minister Sharad Pawar had
visited Beijing in July 1992, which had led to commencement of
exchanges between the military establishment of the two countries,
he said. Recalling that China's President Jiang Zemin visited India
in November 1996, the Prime Minister said the two sides agreed to
build a constructive and cooperative relationship oriented towards