New Delhi may disrupt BRICS Summit to blackmail Beijing

By Liu Zongyi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/15 20:13:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Nearly two months after Indian troops crossed into China's Doklam area, they still refuse to withdraw. The standoff will unavoidably affect the BRICS summit to be held in Xiamen, Fujian Province, in September.

India orchestrated the standoff to not just guarantee the security of the Siliguri Corridor - India's sensitive "chicken's neck" connecting its central and northeast regions, but more importantly to jeopardize China's Belt and Road initiative. In this way it can reverse its strategic disparity with China in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region and tighten its grip on small countries there.

Given the rising nationalism in India, its leadership believes that the country has entered its third flourishing period since its independence and has the backing of the US and Japan to confront China. Meanwhile, Indian leaders have misjudged the will and resolution of Chinese government and leadership in defending China's territorial sovereignty.

India has calculated that China worries any armed conflict with other countries will spoil its peaceful development strategy and reputation for advocating peaceful solutions to international conflicts and disputes, impact China's investment in and economic cooperation with India, and disturb the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and BRICS summit. It also assumes that a Chinese military undergoing reform dares not start a fight with Indian troops.

India hopes to achieve its strategic goals by delaying withdrawal. With repeated requests to talk with China over the standoff and to withdraw its troops simultaneously with China, India wants to compel China to admit that there are territorial disputes over the Sikkim section of the China-India boundary, and admit India's concerns about the Siliguri Corridor are justified. Yet once China does as expected, it would suffer unbearable losses both diplomatically and internally.

As for the BRICS summit, it is merely a forum for emerging countries, far more important for its geopolitical symbolism than its actual results. Due to India's disruption, in recent years BRICS has barely made any progress in promoting internal cooperation and reform of global economic governance. In fact, any international organization in which India has a big say can't play its due role. A successful BRICS summit can lift up China's international reputation, but it can't offset the losses that an inappropriate handling of the Doklam standoff will inflict.

If India feels humiliated in the standoff, it may undermine the outcomes of the Xiamen summit. There is a possibility that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won't attend the summit and send lower-ranking officials instead.

However, it's worth noting that India needs BRICS more than China does. BRICS has provided a platform for India to become an international rule-maker. Besides, India uses BRICS to balance its relations with China, and wants to attract Chinese investment via the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. India also intends to maintain its relationship with Russia through BRICS.

In the Doklam standoff, China must gear up without any hesitation. China has to enhance communication and coordination with Russia, Brazil, South Africa and other developing countries, and make clear to the international community that India intends to undermine the cooperation between emerging and developing countries and blackmail China at the cost of the common interests of developing countries and South-South cooperation.

So far, Russia hasn't made its voice heard on the standoff. But it must be aware of the damage that India's moves will make to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS cooperation and regional stability, as well as to Russia's strategic interests.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of BRICS' establishment. China has to work with Russia, Brazil, South Africa and other developing nations to foster the BRICS-plus model and steadily promote its enlargement. Even without Indian participation, BRICS will turn into a new platform for Belt and Road cooperation and South-South cooperation, and take in more members. BRICS will not decline as the West expects, but instead fare better.

The author is a senior fellow of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion


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