BRICS Summit 2017: China has apparently backed off from its plans to make BRICS Plus a permanent feature of the group in the wake of resistance from existing members, including India. Other four members of the group apprehend that inviting new members would undermine original BRICS goals.
China has been preparing for months to showcase its global influence via the BRICS summit. And making BRICS Plus, consisting of new members from among China’s allies or other developing countries, was on very much on Beijing’s agenda. The idea of BRICS Plus was first mooted early this year by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, according to Times of India. The daily had reported Wang as saying in March 2017 that Beijing would “explore modalities for BRICS-plus, to hold outreach dialogues with other major developing countries”.
In June this year, PTI reported that China proposed the BRICS Plus concept at the Foreign Ministers meeting “to enhance cooperation with various developing nations”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had then told reporters that several rounds of dialogues were held with the other developing countries outside the BRICS during the previous summits of the bloc.
“This is way for us to enhance our connection with other developing countries to further coordinate our positions,” Geng had said, adding, “So the BRICS Plus concept proposed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi means that in future development, China will enhance our cooperation with other developing countries, enhance our interaction with them, so that BRICS cooperation can better reflect the collective position on aspiration of developing countries.”
However, China’s ambitious plan seems to have fallen flat due to opposition from other members, Times of India reported today. At a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi indirectly acknowledged this, saying, “We need to have some further explanation about the BRICS Plus to help people better understand the rationale of this idea.”
Apart from China, other BRICS members are India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa.
Though China has been seriously trying to make BRICS a shining example to boost its global leadership ambitions, there are deep cracks in the group. The five members have not only different social and economic priorities, their diplomatic priorities are also different. The cracks was exposed during the recently ended Doklam standoff between India and China.
BRICS will have to go a long way to become a formidable group to emerge as a challenger to Western Powers. For now, China is yet to earn the confidence of all existing members who are apprehensive about China’s unpredictable leadership and ambitions. These are some reaons because of creation of a permanent BRIC Plus is dream seen too early by China.
For now, China has invited five external countries — Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand — as guests, which is in line with BRICS tradition as host countries are allowed to invite other countries of their choice. Last year during Goa Summit, India had invited leaders of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic) nations in which Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal are members.
When asked whether China’s ‘BRICS Plus’ concept had the support of all present members, Wang referred to the last summit, saying “that dialogue (with BIMSTEC nations) was very effective.” He didn’t says anything about the support from other members, as the group takes its decisions on consensus. “We have given a name to this practice of inviting non-BRICS countries, that is BRICS Plus, but as to how many countries that are going to be invited as Plus countries, it is not a fixed number,” he said.