India feeling betrayed as China hints at including Pakistan in BRICS Plus
BEIJING: China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has come up with the idea of extending the remit of BRICS by inviting other developing countries under a new banner, BRICS Plus.
Addressing his annual press conference on Wednesday on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, the Chinese parliament, Wang said China would "explore modalities for BRICS-plus, to hold outreach dialogues with other major developing countries".
"We hope to establish extensive partnerships and widen our circle of friends to turn it into the most impactful platform for South-South cooperation," he said. China, which is the rotating president of BRICS this year, will host the next summit in September.
Analysts said China is trying to expand its influence by inviting its allies, and the move might result in the dilution of role played by India and other countries in BRICS. The club has five countries-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
"India would be the worst affected among BRICS partners. After expansion, the organization would lose its focus and coherence on development issues and become more like a political platform for China," Mohan Malik, professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies at Honolulu in US, told TNN.
China may invite pro-Beijing countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mexico to join, Malik said. China may be trying to turn BRICS into a China centric organization along the lines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he said.
"At the 2016 BRICS summit in Goa, Beijing was successful in thwarting India's attempts to isolate and condemn its ally Pakistan over cross-border terrorism," Malik pointed out. "The BRICS Plus concept would nip in the bud any future attempts at isolating China and its friends," he said.
The Chinese foreign minister said China's goal is to strengthen the BRICS partnership. It planned to introduce a system of stand-alone meeting of foreign ministers, hold sports and cultural events among BRICS countries.
"As President Xi put it, BRICS are like five fingers each with their own strength but when we come together we are a fist that can punch. When we stay united we won't lose lustre but will shine more brightly," he said.
The premier said that, "BRICS countries represent emerging economies," he said. "Over the years, their fortunes may have risen or fallen, and each faces challenges."
Analysts said China might find it difficult to obtain India's approval to the idea of BRICS Plus.
"India surely will not be interested in expansion at this time," Swaran Singh, professor at at the School of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University told TNN. "BRICS will be focussed on consolidating at this time," he said pointing to political instability in Brazil, economic slowdown in South Africa, and difficult relationship between India and China. Singh said India would avoid taking any decisive political positions because it is still analyzing the Donald Trump presidency in the U.S.
One of China's goals is to extend theOne Belt One Road to countries like India which has been reluctant to participate enthusiastically. Beijing is holding a forum on the Silk Road program in May.
"With protectionism and unilateralism on the rise, the Belt and Road will find common cause where all countries roll up their sleeves and pitch in together. We will help rebalance globalisation," Wang said.