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Thursday, May 14, 1998 Published at 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK

China joins criticism of India

The Indian tests were carried out at the Pokhran test site

China has joined in the international condemnation of India's second set of nuclear tests, accusing it of trying to control politics in the region.

After a cautious response to India's first set of nuclear tests, China has now released a strongly-worded statement in response to the second set.

[ image: The tests were ordered by Indian PM Vajpayee]
The tests were ordered by Indian PM Vajpayee
The foreign ministry statement said the Chinese Government was shocked by the action, which it said demonstrated outrageous contempt for international attempts to ban nuclear testing.

The statement also accused India of trying to obtain hegemony in south Asia, and said the tests would entail serious consequences to the peace and stability of the region and the world.

China also rejected the idea that it posed a nuclear threat to India and said the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, had supported this view.

The BBC's correspondent in Beijing says China is now gravely concerned about the long-term security implications of Indian nuclear testing, after the implication by Indian leaders that Chinese nuclear weapons posed potentially the biggest threat to India.

The Chinese statement rejected these accusations as malicious and utterly groundless.

China's official news agency also revealed that Madeleine Albright had talked to her Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, and agreed that Beijing did not pose a nuclear threat to India.

He also said that China is in a difficult position as it only stopped nuclear testing in 1996, but the latest comments were a sign of its anger.

[ image: The Indian media has been mostly supportive]
The Indian media has been mostly supportive
Meanwhile, India's government has rejected as "baseless and unwarranted" China's accusations that India is seeking hegemony in south Asia.

India Radio has reported that the government has asserted that India had legitimate security reasons for wanting to conduct the tests.

India is also turning the Chinese arguments back at Beijing, pointing out that China has carried out 46 nuclear tests, the last one in 1996, when China too claimed it had legitimate reasons for needing to carry out the tests.

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