China on Thursday said it will not back India’s bid alone to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group as “other states” are also aspiring to join the elite 48-member club and asserted that any decision on the inclusion of new members will be based on “consensus”.

“Besides India, there are other non-NPT states who have expressed similar aspirations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, clubbing India along with Pakistan and other states who have not signed the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty (NPT).

He was responding to a query on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s recent comments in the Senate that China was helping Pakistan to stall India’s bid to get Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.

“This raises a question to the international community, that is whether or not non-NPT states can join the NSG,” Hong said.

India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are among the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

“However, a decision on the inclusion of non-NPT states shall be made based on consensus of all NSG members after thorough discussions in accordance with relevant rules.

China’s position applies to all non-NPT states instead of targeting any specific country,” Hong said.

Describing the NSG as a crucial component of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, Hong said “it is the long-standing consensus of the international community that the NPT is the cornerstone of the regime”.

As US and other influential member states in the NSG have stepped up efforts to admit India into the body, China has called for “through discussions” among the NSG members about entry of non-NPT states amid assertions by Pakistan officials that Beijing has assured to push for Islamabad’s membership.

NSG Chairman Rafael Grossi had visited India in November last year and held talks with top Indian leaders about New Delhi’s admission to the group.

Observers say that unlike 2008 when the NSG has granted a waiver to India during which China was reported to have expressed reservations but not stalled New Delhi’s special exemption, this time Beijing reportedly decided to push for Islamabad’s membership, linking it with India.

India’s case is being pressed by the US and other influential countries based on the India’s record in non-proliferation and the India-US civil nuclear accord.