09:03 GMT01 August 2021
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    A former Indian diplomat is of the view that with China’s growing hegemonic ambitions and seeking of parity with the US are no longer compatible with BRICS’ main aim to curb America’s post-Cold War unilateralism, which was conceptualized during the Russia-India-China dialogue and led to the formation of the economic grouping.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for bilateral talks on September 4 on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit being hosted by China from 3-5 September 2017.

    “At the invitation of the President of the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will visit Xiamen in China’s Fujian province… to attend the 9th BRICS Summit,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. “Subsequently, Prime Minister will pay a State visit to Myanmar from 5-7 September at the invitation of U. Htin Kyaw, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,” it added.

    In June this year, the Indian Prime Minister had turned down Beijing’s request to participate in its multi-billion dollar Belt & Road Initiative. In the immediate aftermath, the Doklam standoff ensued, casting a shadow over Modi’s participation in the BRICS summit.

    Although Modi and Xi met informally at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany and before that in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, it will be the first time the two leaders will officially hold talks concerning current circumstances. Therefore, the outcome of their bilateral meeting will be keenly followed.

    India’s former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal (July 2002 to November 2003) and a career diplomat is not very optimistic about the outcome of the meeting as he is of the view that “China has seared the bilateral relationship.” Sibal also thinks that China’s actions are now no longer compatible with BRICS’ vision of more transparent global governance, multi-polarity, diminished western hegemony, greater south-south cooperation and other aims.

    “China’s conduct is increasingly violating this vision. China’s own hegemonic ambitions in Asia are increasingly evident, even as the BRICS forum opposes western hegemony. China no longer talks of multi-polarity because it now seeks equality with the US and a possible G-2 arrangement,” Sibal wrote in an op-ed article in the Economic Times.

    On terrorism, Sibal questions China’s double standards by repeatedly preventing Pakistan-based extremist Masood Azhar’s designation as an international terrorist. Particularly from an Indian point of view, Beijing’s opposition to India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and bid for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council contradicts BRICS vision of more inclusive international governance. Whereas, Moscow has supported India on both issues and has been actively lobbying for it.

    Another Indian expert is of the view that though Sino-Indian rivalry dilutes the very intent of BRICS, the Doklam standoff was not as big to completely overshadow the upcoming summit.

    “The salience of BRICS has nothing to do with the Doklam standoff, which was not a standalone irritant in India-China ties. In fact, it has only reinforced India’s suspicion of China. But, Doklam didn’t happen in a vacuum. From last few years, the wedge between the two countries has grown over many issues such as the entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, ban on Jaish chief Masood Azhar and others. On BRICS, I have always maintained that it is an artificial construct. It made economic sense at one point in time, but with three out of five of its economies performing below par, it has lost even that traction. Geostrategically it never made sense, especially with the Sino-Indian rivalry. In India’s case, the Sino-Russian entente has added a new variable in the way we look at the forum. India has always looked to Russia for siding with itself against China. With China now setting the agenda within the forum, Indian policymakers will watch developments within BRICS closely, although I still think India wouldn’t end its ties with it,” Dr. Harsh V. Pant, Distinguished Fellow and Head of Observer Research Foundation's Strategic Studies program told Sputnik.


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