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China forced to abandon plan to enlarge BRICS

China forced to abandon plan to enlarge BRICS

BEIJING: China aborted its attempt to create a permanent BRICS Plus feature and invite other countries to join in following resistance from the other members of the five-nation grouping, including India, who apprehend dilution of BRICS’s goals if other counties, including Beijing’s close allies, are brought in.

The next BRICS summit, scheduled for September 3 and 4 in the Chinese city of Xiamen, will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of host China, and member nations Russia, Brazil and South Africa.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi indicated that Beijing has not been able to convince other members about its BRICS Plus plans.

“We need to have some further explanation about BRICS Plus to help people better understand the rationale of this idea,” Wang said. At the same time, Wang defended Beijing’s move to expand BRICS’s role and influence by inviting other countries, and make it more capable of creating a multi-polar world instead of one dominated by Western countries.

China has invited five non-BRICS countries to attend the Xiamen summit but this will be a temporary arrangement limited to this summit. It’s a privilege of the host country. India, which held a summit in Goa last year, had invited several neighbouring countries, Wang said.

Pakistan, regarded as China’s closest ally, is not among the five countries Beijing invited. These are Thailand, Egypt, Tajikistan, Mexico and Guinea, representing five different continents, that play a key role in China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) programme that involves construction of transport networks across dozens of countries.

China has been campaigning for the creation of a permanent BRICS Plus arrangement to enable non-BRICS countries to play an active role, sources said. BRICS had started off with four members and Beijing was instrumental in bringing in South Africa at a later stage. Critics say China wants to expand the BRICS mechanism as a means to garner wider influence for itself.

“It’s in the interests of all sides to strengthen cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries through BRICS; therefore, China has proposed the BRICS plus concept based on past experiences,” Wang said.

Modi announced his decision to attend the meeting after the two countries agreed to end the border standoff at Doklam near Sikkim but tensions between the two Himalayan neighbours has not evaporated. There are indications Beijing agreed to settle the dispute because it feared disruption of the conference if Modi decided to stay away.

“What’s important is that we put these problems in the appropriate place, and appropriately handle and control them in the spirit of mutual respect and based on the consensus of both countries’ leaders,” Wang said. “There is huge potential for cooperation between China and India,” he said.

Wang also said, “China stands ready to work with other BRICS countries to make BRICS cooperation bigger, stronger and more solid to benefit not only the five BRICS countries, but also the whole world.”

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