The ninth summit meeting of BRICS group of nations in Xiamen in China on September 3 to 5 has been hailed by China as a “golden decade” of cooperation among member states.
Apart from the countries namely Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa, leaders from Egypt Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan, Thailand and over one thousand business leaders including representatives from nearly 80 Fortune 500 multi national companies participate in the forum.
It is reported that the BRICS sessions will focus on global economic issues, national security and development related issues, which will be followed by discussions on practical cooperation and cultural exchanges. Four documents will be signed relating to agenda on economic and trade development, innovative and customs cooperation and MOU between BRICS Business Council and Development Bank.
All the above information on BRICS ninth summit are very impressive and have raised high expectations and curiosity all over the world. But, still, doubts remain as to whether such economic cooperation would be possible in the absence of political harmony between the member states. With continuing tension between leading countries of BRICS namely India and China, the underlying question is whether proper climate exists for cooperation. .
This vital question can not be ignored or sidelined.
There are significant differences in the approach of India and China on various issues, and BRICS summit cannot be viewed in isolation without considering such ground realities.
India has been calling for the early endorsement of UN convention on terrorism, while China has firmly opposed to any formulation on terrorism that would indirectly slam the role of Pakistan in global terrorism. While India says that it is suffering heavily due to the support extended by the Pakistan government to terrorist outfits, China firmly rejects such view of India and remain as an all weather friend of Pakistan with deepening economic and industrial cooperation between both these countries.
India suspects that China’s Belt and Road Initiative has ulterior motives and is part of China’s plan to push itself in front as a global leader in all respects. India is opposing any formal docking of China’s Belt and Road Initiative with BRICS.
Most Asian countries suspect that China has territorial ambitions, which is reflected by its conflicts with Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and India which is highlighted by the recent tension in Doklam. In its anxiety to make the ninth summit a grand success, China is likely to underplay the Doklam issue for the time being, so that the summit would proceed without unsavoury exchanges between India and China on the border tension and several claims of China on Indian territory.
Russian President has called on BRICS leaders to present a united opposition front against protectionism and new barriers to global trade. Obviously, these are only rhetorics from Russian President, as Russia itself is involved in several activities which are contrary to the Russian President’s call.
The participation of countries like Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand and over 1200 attendees from multinational companies do not have any particular significance, and apparently, they are attending the summit more as a matter of curiosity and as observers without any real participative interest.
In defense of the performance of the BRICS, it has been claimed that BRICS issue the first tranche of loans for seven projects worth 1.5 billion USD with a focus on solar, wind and hydro electric power generation. The second cluster of projects amounting to $1.4 billion has been approved by the New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS in areas such as flood control and rural water management.
Is the purpose of BRICS only so much as extending loan for the projects? As it celebrates the ninth summit, does BRICS have any more claim than a mere extending of loan for projects?
The fundamental fact is that no economic and industrial cooperation between any group of nations can be possible in the absence of climate of confidence between the countries and with mutual suspicion about the role and objectives of each other. One cannot preach peace on the one hand and then talk about war on the contrary.
The recent rhetorics of China that it would not hesitate to attack India on Doklam issue militarily cannot be concealed or forgotten even as the BRICS summit take place. Further, the fact that China issued an advisory to its citizens to exercise caution while traveling to India shows the current level of mistrust that China has about India.
Obviously, like so many other alliances between several countries such as NATO, ASEAN, G-8, SAARC , etc. which have not brought any tangible improvement in the world climate of cooperation and harmony, BRICS would not make the world any better.