China said today that the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting being held here next week will involve a candid exchange of views to forge consensus on counter terrorism while claiming that it opposes any “double standards” on the issue. “On counter terrorism, we have a clear-cut position that terrorism is the common enemy of mankind,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told reporters here responding to BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav’s comments that BRICS countries should shun double standards in fighting terrorism. “We oppose any double standard adopted by the countries in counter terrorism efforts,” he said without referring to the criticism against China over blocking a UN ban on Jaish- e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar. Lu said “the BRICS foreign ministers will conduct a candid exchange of views on this issue”. The foreign ministers meeting from on June 18-19 is expected to unveil the agenda for this year’s BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit to be held in September in China’s Xiamen city. “The five countries are not expected to have any essential divergences and differences on this issue because the counter terrorism efforts call on the international community to form consensus and forge a joint effort in this regard,” Lu said. At the same time, Lu said while everybody thinks that there should be no double standards on the issue of counter terrorism, “indeed counter terrorism requires the international community to build consensus on the basis of mutual respect”.
Speaking at the BRICS political parties, think tanks and civil society organisations meeting last week at the Chinese city of Fuzhou, Madhav was quoted as saying that the five- member bloc should shun “narrow self-interests and double standards” which hampered the fight against international terrorism. “We need to be convinced and convince others through our actions that all forms of terrorism are bad, and distinction of your terrorism and my terrorism or good terrorists and bad terrorists are unscrupulous and ill-conceived,” Madhav said in an apparent reference to China blocking India’s efforts to get Azhar banned by the UN.
Lu said the BRICS will serve as an important organisation for strengthening relations between the developing countries with growing international influence. “We think this foreign ministers meeting will help us to exchange in-depth views on important international issues and other issues of mutual concern,” he said. India will be represented at the meeting by Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (retd) V K Singh. The meeting is a precursor to the chain of meetings of BRICS officials including the National Security Advisors (NSAs) meeting to be held later next month ahead of the Summit.
Incidentally, this is the first time the foreign ministers meeting has been called by a host country holding the BRICS Summit. China took over the rotating presidency of the BRICS from India after last year’s Goa Summit. The ministers meeting was regarded as significant from both the bilateral point of view for India as well as for this year’s Summit, the structure of which would be decided by the host country. Bilaterally, the foreign ministers meeting comes in the backdrop of India-China discord over a host of issues, including the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, culminating in India’s boycott of the Belt and Road Forum last month hosted by China to highlight the progress of ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China also continues to maintain that there is no change in its stand on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as on the blocking of the UN ban on Azhar.
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Also, China was expected to outline its proposals for the BRICS Summit, specially which are the countries it plans to invite for the Summit. At the Goa Summit, India invited heads of the members of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). Earlier this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke about BRICS Plus but gave no details.