Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to China next week to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Fujian province and also visit Myanmar on his way back. The announcement of Modi’s visit comes a day after India and China ended their 70-day standoff in Doklam by withdrawing their troops from the area. According an official statement issued in New Delhi by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), “At the invitation of the President of People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Xiamen in China’s Fujian province during September 3-5, 2017 to attend the 9th BRICS Summit.” This year’s BRICS summit is taking place in China, which has witnessed a flurry of activities including intra-BRICS activities, G20 and people-to-people exchanges.
Oliver Stuenkel of Getulio Vargas Foundation, São Paulo, in his column in Americas Quarterly, says, “China’s top foreign policy priority at this stage is to consolidate and substantiate its regional leadership ambitions, so it can be expected that the BRICS presidency and the Xiamen summit will be used with this goal in mind. Specifically, this means that China will most likely give special emphasis to the so-called outreach-process, initiated by the South African government during the 2013 Summit, when Pretoria invited countries in the region to participate in parts of the summit.” Beijing may take this process a step further, and some have privately suggested China is interested in inviting Indonesia to the club. This would fit nicely into Beijing’s narrative that its rise is inclusive, participatory and, above all, good for Asia as a whole, he says in his column.
During India’s BRICS presidency in 2016, one of the biggest highlights was the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit, where the BRICS leaders met the heads of government of the BIMSTEC, or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, a multilateral grouping of seven countries: India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. According to agency reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will participate in an emerging economies dialogue and a business forum in the framework of the 9th BRICS Summit. Peña Nieto will attend after an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Presidents of Egypt, Guinea (currently leading the African Union), Thailand (currently president of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue) and Tajikistan (representative for Central Asia) will also be attending.
In the 2017 BRICS Business Forum, more than 800 business leaders are expected to discuss opportunities for investment, trade, connectivity, financial cooperation and blue development and economy (sustainable use of marine resources). The summit has the objective of strengthening collaboration for the progress of the complementation of the 2030 Agenda; increasing the South-South cooperation; fostering connectivity and trade; and mechanisms for eradicating poverty. Modi is expected to meet these leaders on the sidelines, though there is no official confirmation of the bilateral meetings. Modi will pay a state visit to Myanmar from September 5 to 7 on the invitation of Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s first bilateral state visit to Myanmar. Modi will hold talks with state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on matters of mutual interest and also call on President Kyaw. Apart from his engagements in the capital city of Nay Pyi Taw, he will visit Yangon and Bagan, read the MEA statement.