RSTV- The Big Picture : Takeaways from 2017 BRICS Summit

  • September 17, 2017
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The Big Picture- RSTV
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Takeaways from 2017 BRICS Summit


TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Highlights

  1. Terrorism has been mentioned strongly and terror groups listed categoricaly. This is advancement from the Goa declaration.
  2. 5 guests were invited outside BRICS by china- Thailand, Mexico, Egypt, Guinea and Tajikistan. Pakistan was not invited despite being an ‘all weather friend’.
  3. In the entire declaration, there is no mention of OBOR as there were strong reservations by India and Bhutan not in its favour.

China’s stand on terrorism

  • It has to be wait and watched if the Chinese position on Masood azhar changes when the time comes as it has mentioned LeT and JeM. It would be presumptuous to think that in a declaration, the Chinese have shifted their policy towards Pakistan.
  • There is reference to Taliban and Haqqani network and strong statement in favour of afghan government and afghan national security forces and their fight against terrorism. When this is added together, it will be seen in future if it means a shift in Chinese position or not. The Chinese are encouraging the talks between afghan government and Taliban. So they are playing both sides of the game.

Border settlement

  • The appearances shouldn’t be always accepted. There was a successful meeting in Astana and right after it, Doklam happened.
  • The Chinese way of diplomacy is to make the fight very hard for India when the measures to solve them are actually reasonably simple steps that the world understands should be taken in such an event.
  • The leaders have said that the relationship will be forward looking. Thus they will not be looking into past that much. There was a need of constructive discussion on where the relationship should be headed. Peace and tranquillity at the border is pre-requisite for the relationship to go forward.
  • Border issue can be talked in a routine manner but when Doklam like issues happen, it derails the other relation such as economics.

India-China relations are entering a very difficult stage with standoffs occurring in 2013(Aksai Chin region) and 2014 (Chumar, Eastern Ladakh). Given the dynamics between two countries and the positioning they are looking for in the global system, it is bound to be natural that there are going to be areas of contestation between two sides.

In a setting where there are many contentious issues at bilateral level, when the strategic contestation is added, then it becomes more difficult to manage this relationship. However, both sides did reasonably well despite the Doklam standoff.

Other areas

There is a need for India-China connections on other bilateral issues like building of trade relations, access to Indian pharmaceutical companies into china, river water (Brahmputra) data sharing etc.

Way forward

The way forward is to enhance strategic communications. It is not sufficient that the leaders meet as per schedule as they don’t have so much time to discuss these issues in detail. More dialogues are required between range of senior officials, middle level officials and junior officials. USA and china have huge amount of dialogues. Unless India and china don’t enter into those dialogues and have exchanges between government officials, military officials and academics and people to people level, ties will remain on tight rope. However, it is difficult as though there will be dialogues between India and china, china doesn’t accept India as a strategically equal partner. So it doesn’t show interest or provide platform to India to discuss things as it does with USA.

Also it is well known that Chinese economic involvement with other countries is extension of its military involvement which is why India will take care of unnecessary Chinese domination when India and its strategic interests are concerned.

BRICS is an interesting avenue where these things could come up and settled down. BRICS has made comments on global issues such as climate change, IMF, promoting effective use of fossil fuels etc. So there is a direction where all countries can go together. There is also been mention of BRICS credit rating agency and solar alliance as it can’t solely depend on western countries.

However, the group needs to be balanced in multiple ways when it comes to making it sustainable. China and India are bigger economic players and more significant political players. If the other three economies are not able to get their act together, than BRICS has problem going forward. It now needs to be seen how India and China make the entire group working together in economic terms as well as long term bilateral partnerships.

Connecting the dots:

  • ‘BRICS is an unbalanced group’. Do you agree? Examine. Also explain how India can play a role in making BRICS a powerful regional association?

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