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BRICS May Defuse Frozen Border Issues Between India and China, Expert Says

© AP Photo / Manish SwarupIn this Sept. 14, 2017, file photo, Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in India's Ladakh area.
In this Sept. 14, 2017, file photo, Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in India's Ladakh area. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.06.2022
The 14th BRICS Summit, the China-hosted virtual event that concluded on Saturday, emphasized ways to enhance the group's influence on the global stage besides promoting sustainable infrastructure development in the region.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the "structural changes in BRICS in the last few years increased the influence of this institution," while Chinese President Xi Jinping has criticized US-led sanctions, which are "weaponizing" the global economy.
Sputnik spoke with Dr. Sandeep Tripathi, Founder and President of the Delhi-based Forum for Global Studies, about the outcome of the recently-held BRICS event.
Sputnik: China wants India to separate the border dispute from the "larger" issue of India-China relations. India has repeatedly said it won't happen until the border issue is resolved. Even with this tension in the background, India participated in the BRICS Summit. What factors come into play that affect India's commitment to BRICS?
Sandeep Tripathi: India's stance on the border issue clearly emphasizes that "Talks and Tension" cannot co-exist in bringing normalcy to Indo-China Relations. However, as a founding member of BRICS, New Delhi seeks to realize common interests with the emerging economies, which comprise around 40% of the world's population.
As the great game continues to heat up, both between the US and China, and now the US and Russia, Beijing and Moscow have taken tougher lines against the West. But New Delhi could not overtly criticize the West and the US. Against this backdrop, New Delhi has maintained its decisional autonomy and signaled a peaceful diplomatic solution amid the [Ukraine crisis].
Sputnik: Do you believe that BRICS can serve as a platform for India and China to iron out their differences, given the fact that the two countries have discussed and agreed to enhance cooperation in some critical sectors such as space and border security?
Sandeep Tripathi: I strongly believe trade and business always play a decisive role in defusing geopolitical issues. This platform may defuse the existing frozen conflict between India and China. Most importantly, regional or global organization enhances cooperation among the member states. Hence, BRICS drives to realize the "common interest" and respond to the "binary identity" projected by the West.
Both India and China have taken a very tactical strategic stance on the Russia-Ukraine issue. India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar categorically disapproved of the "European Centralism" on India's bilateral issues, i.e. the India-China border issue. India's Ambassador to China Pradeep Kumar Rawat noted that the border standoff remains a stumbling block that must be resolved through dialogue and consultation.
Sputnik: The BRICS declaration issued after the summit emphasizes enhancing the group's influence on the global stage. Many believe that the increasing influence of BRICS will create uneasiness for India while dealing with an almost similar grouping, the Quad. Do you agree?
Sandeep Tripathi: India is a country that enormously enjoys the doctrine of strategic autonomy. Today, India's bilateral or multilateral external engagement is based on "issue-based alignment," which maintains "decisional autonomy."
India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar rightly noted that India has come to "discover the benefits of working with different powers on different issues." India's strategic balancing between Russia and the West on Ukraine issue; the India-Russia Defense deal (S-400 Air Defense Missile System); India and China Face-off and Russia's stand; India and Quad: Russia's concern is the current illustration of India's strategic autonomy. So, strategic convergence with BRICS (in containing the Western-led global order) does not dilute India's closeness with the Quad in containing aggressive China.
India's alignment with the 'Indo-Pacific' also happens at a time when India will have to simultaneously navigate its way through its complex relationships with countries like Russia, and multilateral groupings like the BRICS and the SCO. India's relationship with Russia does not fall into complexity. India's engagement with Russia is not based on speculative assumptions but empirically verified outcomes.
On the Ukraine issue, New Delhi firmly took an independent posture and appealed to a peaceful dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. Additionally, New Delhi doesn't define the Quad as "Asian NATO."
Under the nuances of evolving dynamics, whether the Quad or BRICS, New Delhi has its own version of narratives that upholds India's credentials on the global stage.
Sputnik: Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China wanted to work with its BRICS partners to operationalize the Global Security Initiative and "bring more stability and positive energy to the world." Do you think India will be comfortable with this initiative which many perceive as a counter to the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Forum?
Sandeep Tripathi: This projection of narratives signals that Russia and China are no longer part of the US-led world order. India has always been comfortable with China's Global Security Initiative as well as the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Forum. Both initiatives may be defined as rivals; New Delhi's engagement is beyond the perception and the counter-perception.
India's engagement is driven by national interest, not by the power projection of superpower countries like the US and China. At the Quad meeting, New Delhi voiced its different line on the Ukraine issue from the other members.
The 14th BRICS summit symbolizes the growing importance of the emerging economies, which account for one-fourth of global GDP.
Sputnik: Interestingly, India, China and Russia are all vying for a good relationship with Afghanistan. Do you foresee any joint initiative under the BRICS for crisis-ridden Afghanistan?
Sandeep Tripathi: New Delhi has adopted pragmatic flexibility to respond to crisis-ridden Afghanistan. From the beginning, India's tone and tenor were not equally similar to the West and Russia or China.
New Delhi, however, can join with other BRICS member countries under the proposed Global Security Initiative. Let me quote from the 14th BRICS Summit Beijing Declaration, "We strongly support a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national unity and non-interference in its internal affairs."
The Beijing Declaration also emphasizes that the Afghan territory should not be used to threaten any country or shelter or train terrorists.
The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.
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