The Big Picture – Takeaways from 2017 BRICS Summit
Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping had their first bilateral meeting since the Doklam standoff. This meeting at the 9th BRICS summit (3rd-5th September 2017) in Xiamen, China came just a few days after 28 August 2017 when both the countries announced that they had withdrawn all their troops from the face-off site in Doklam. The summit was reported as being forward-looking and focussed on healthy and stable India-China ties with talks about peace and tranquillity along their border.
- The Doklam impasse is now over, with New Delhi emerging on equal terms despite withdrawing the troops. But, with such meetings both nations need to develop relations and mechanisms so that such situations are prevented in future along the border.
- Terror attacks were condemned by the leaders and Pakistan based terror groups (Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad) with global terror groups (Haqqani network, Islamic State and al-Qaida) were mentioned from the Chinese territory. This is the first time anti-India groups have been named in a BRICS declaration.
- Among five guests invited (Thailand, Mexico, Egypt, Kenya and Tajikistan), Pakistan was not This indirectly points to China’s favour to India on the issue of terrorism.
- There was no mention of the Belt and Road Initiative in the Xiamen Declaration. India and Bhutan have strong reservations on this initiative.
- Though global issues like climate change, terrorism, solar alliance, promoting effective use of fossil fuels, etc were discussed, there is need for India and China to increase cooperation on other bilateral issues like river water (Brahmputra) data sharing, entry of Indian pharmaceutical companies in China, etc.
- Chinese economic expansion with other countries is also parallel to its military expansions like in South Asia also (South China Sea near Philippines).
- India-China relations are entering a very difficult stage with standoffs occurring in 2013(Aksai Chin region) and 2014 (Chumar, Eastern Ladakh) as well and, this is quite a natural process for two large nations with very large economies and growing capabilities.
- It is a rare scenario that meetings are held in completely peaceful time between both the nations, so India and China need to look at other relevant topics in parallel which will be beneficial for development of both the nations. But, mere good meetings and positive declarations don’t point that relations are good in every aspect. Doklam standoff occurred on 16th June 2017, just after the Astana meet of SCO (7th-10th June 2017). So, India needs to be prepared to play tough balancing acts as the need may arise.
The Way Ahead:
The way forward is to enhance strategic communications. Building strong strategic partnerships meetings of state leaders is essential but meetings at senior and junior levels should also be done frequently between government, military officials and academic level. China and US are maintaining a lot more dialogues frequently and India needs to learn from that. BRICS is thus a possible platform where many of these issues can be settled down. China and India need to look forward so that this five-nation group of major emerging economies keeps on moving in good terms.