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After First Indian ICBM Test, China Pledges Help for Pakistan

(GPA) Beijing – Following India’s first test of their first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Agni-V, China has pledged more support to Pakistan in building their own nuclear deterrents.

An op-ed was published yesterday in the Global Times, an English-language, Chinese publication aligned with the communist party of China that warns India to “cool it’s missile fever.” This warning comes after India’s recent tests of 2 new ICBMs, the first was the Agni-V in late December, which has a range of 5,000km. Several days later India tested the Agni-IV which, according to the times of India, can apparently hit “anywhere in china.”

Attribution 2.0 Generic Flickr: Steve Jurvetson

The Global Times argued that if the United Nations and “the Western countries accept India as a nuclear country and are indifferent to the nuclear race between India and Pakistan, China will not stand out and stick rigidly to those nuclear rules as necessary.” China feels that if there is no objection by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to the increasing nuclear stockpile of India (banned under the UNSC charter) than the same feeling should apply to Pakistan.

Chinese officials also pointed out that it seems hypocritical for the UNSC to accept this development since India is looking to obtain permanent membership in the international body.

China has long been a crucial partner in the development of Pakistan’s nuclear capability for both energy and weapons purposes. Although the op-ed made clear that China feels no threat from India, either economically or militarily, it will help India’s regional rival Pakistan build their own defenses.

Despite explicitly mentioning China when discussing the range of their new missiles, Indian officials say they were not developed to deal with “any particular threat.” Yvonne Chiu, a professor at Hong Kong university feels that Beijing thinks this is acceptable but “Everyone should be interested in and concerned about India’s successful ICBM test,[including] China because it’s within range of this new missile and because it especially of the major Asian countries understands the dangers of nationalism and its volatility.”

It is important to remember that, although this point came from an op-ed piece in a Chinese publication, that this is often how China chooses to test the global waters or make ultimatums that they don’t quite want to be considered ‘official policy.’

It’s still unclear what the greater implications of this saber rattling by India and China will come to in the end but it should be closely observed. Countries around the world are more frequently discussing heightened nuclear proliferation and possible uses of nuclear weapons and India and Pakistan’s adversarial relationship is currently one of the worst in Asia. Tensions continue to build every day over the issue of the disputed Kashmir region and could spark a greater conflict. Living in a multipolar geopolitical environment means the chances of conflicts are only going to increase.