New Delhi: Even as the People’s Republic of China intensifies efforts to expand BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), India is in no mood to give a green signal to any such proposal. Nor will there be any consensus within the BRICS on expansion, with Brazil already unwilling to give a go-ahead to China.
“New Delhi is of the view that Beijing has initiated this ‘illogical’ move with the clear objective to increase its influence and exercise its authority in the group,” top diplomatic sources at South Block told The Sunday Guardian. “China’s views are illogical because of which consensus building will be elusive, as has already been signalled by Brazil, one of the key members of the forum,” added sources privy to high-level meetings on this issue. Officials believe that South Africa, another important member of the group, will take the Brazilian line on this.
Sources said that China intends to include Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria, Senegal and Thailand. “Beijing’s motive is to re-structure and expand the group under its leadership and influencer,” officials told this newspaper. The experts, government officials spoke to on this, suggested that China was seeking to dilute the role of Brazil and India, sources said.
According to sources, details from the Chinese government have not yet come regarding the plan. India will prepare a final reply on the basis of the final document, sources said. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi had just shared his idea with BRICS counterparts during an online meeting in May. “China proposes to start the BRICS expansion process, explore the criteria and procedures for the expansion, and gradually form a consensus,” Yi pointed out.
China, which is holding a rotating Presidency of BRICS bloc this year, said again on Friday that it actively supports the expansion of the five-member group. A day earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said that Saudi Arabia and Argentina desired to join the grouping. Responding to Lavrov’s BRICS expansion comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing that “as the BRICS Chair this year, China actively supports the start of the BRICS expansion process and broadens ‘BRICS Plus’ cooperation.”
The foreign ministers and top officials of Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, the UAE and Thailand had also participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the BRICS which was held virtually on 19 May under Beijing’s “BRICS Plus” initiative.
Sources said that China is planning a massive diplomatic outreach to the BRICS nations in a bid to push its idea of expansion. “Chinese diplomats are ready with documented proposals to contact high level officials in these countries including India, seeking their suggestions on the same,” sources said. The proposal may also be discussed during the BRICS summit to be held possibly virtually later this month, added the sources.
The argument that the Chinese diplomats are likely to put forward is that an expansion of BRICS would make it more relevant and effective as an economic front providing a more credible alternative to Europe and the US. Diplomats say that India’s focus is now on how to mount pressure on China to stop its assertive agenda in various geographies including along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where it continues to disrespect the written agreements. New Delhi will use the BRICS discussions to continue to give the same message to Beijing on this, sources said. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has already told China to fulfil the BRICS commitments on respecting sovereignty and integrity of other countries.