New Delhi today hit back at China's jibe that admission of a non-NPT signatory in Nuclear Suppliers Group could not be US President Barack Obama's "farewell gift" to India, with the external affairs ministry stating that India was not seeking NSG membership as a gift but on the strength of its non-proliferation credentials.
"India is not seeking NSG membership as a gift. India is seeking it on its non-proliferation record," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said at a briefing in New Delhi.
"I, of course, cannot speak for other applicants," he said in an obvious reference to Pakistan, which is also trying to get into the NSG - and has a questionable non-proliferation record.
China, which cannot also have any claim of non-proliferation, said on Monday that admission of non-NPT signatories in NSG could not be a "farewell gift" for countries to give to each other.
China's comments came after the outgoing Obama administration asserted that Beijing was an "outlier" in the efforts to make India a member of the elite nuclear club.
"Regarding India's application to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), regarding non-NPT countries admission to the NSG, we have made our position clear before so I will not repeat it," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had told a media briefing, reacting to remarks by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal.
"Clearly there is one outlier that needs to be addressed and that is China," Biswal had said on India's NSG membership bid.
"I just want to point out that NSG membership shall not be some kind of (a) farewell gift for countries to give to each other," reports quoted Hua as saying said.
China has been blocking India's membership bid for the 48-member grouping despite backing from majority members on the grounds that India is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
China is advocating a two-step approach for admission of countries who have not signed the NPT.
Beijing wants the grouping to first find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT countries, including Pakistan, followed by discussions on admitting specific nations.
China is also consulting Pakistan on the issue as Islamabad also applied for NSG membership after India.
Chinese President Xi Jinping does not wants India to be a member of the NSG or Pakistani terrorist Azhar be banned internationally.