The ninth summit of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) is set to begin on Sunday, where New Delhi and Beijing are unlikely to allow their differences over the Doklam plateau to cloud their support for the emerging economies and the Global South.
In view of the impression that Washington may be abdicating its role as the leader of globalisation, the Chinese wish to message that the emerging economies are well positioned to lead a perceived post-US world.
Ahead of the Xiamen summit, a commentary in the Xinhua news agency highlighted that China “has already emerged as a staunch advocate for globalisation and open trade” — a position underscored by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s January speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos.
The commentary signalled that sustainable globalisation “is likely to be reaffirmed” at the Xiamen summit.
Analysts say that having benefited from open trade and investments, India is also unlikely to let geopolitics, or its close ties with Washington, come in the way of co-joining China and the emerging economies in fostering a new wave of globalisation.
One-on-one meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping
Notwithstanding major points of convergence on a global canvas, a possible one-on-one meeting between President Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to give a fresh and positive direction to the pivotal China-Indian relationship would be keenly watched. Apart from the emerging countries, the region, including South Asia and the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), would have a special interest in picking new signals shaping New Delhi-Beijing ties.
Of late, India’s pursuit of the Indo-Pacific doctrine, focused on an energetic engagement of the ASEAN and island territories in the Pacific, with a strong Indian diaspora presence, is feeding into the broadening India-China equation. In an emailed response to The Hindu, Richard J. Heydarian, a Manila based academic pointed out that the end of the Doklam crisis showed the “wisdom of great power diplomacy and how despite its overall military and economic superiority , China recognises India’s heft as an emerging peer with its own robust territorial conviction”.
Highly placed sources engaged in the preparations of the summit highlighted that India opposes any formal docking of China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the BRICS as part of an end-of summit document in Xiamen. Nevertheless, India would have no problems in supporting individual bankable projects that are not formally declared a part of the BRI.
Proposal for establishing BRICS+ arrangement
China’s proposal for establishing a BRICS+ arrangement where the host country of the summit is free to invite non-members is likely to be endorsed at Xiamen. The convergence has been possible after a consensus was achieved that instead of an insitutionalised body of permanent members, as suggested by some, it would be the prerogative of the host county to pick guests, specifically for that summit alone, under the BRICS+ framework.
The sources said that considerable convergence has been achieved to form a BRICS rating agency. Besides, formation of a BRICS financial institute — a think tank on the lines already established by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also been widely discussed ahead of the summit. “There is a suggestion to set up an institution on the lines of the IMF. It is not a bad idea but the location of the headquarters of such an institution is yet to be decided,” the source said.
Despite rejection of terrorism, India has been calling for the early endorsement of the UN convention of terrorism. The Chinese are opposed to any formulation that would indirectly slam the role of Pakistan in global terrorism.
Cyber security is likely to emerge as another important topic in the Xiamen summit. India, on its part, is keen on promoting digital economy, and is likely to back the existing working group on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), to comprehensively examine all aspects of cyber security.