China’s hosting of the 2017 BRICS summit in Xiamen on the heels of the Doklam dispute with India serves to cement its role as a new global power. China shows that it is interested in being perceived as a peaceful power that supports an alternative ‘win-win’ globalization for the developing world, Valdai Club expert Andrei Vinogradov, Professor at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Higher School of Economics, believes.
The creation of the BRICS acronym was connected exclusively to the emergence of fast-growing markets. The creation of the political format of BRICS occurred much later. Its main unifying idea was not economics or economic integration, but the creation of a foreign policy instrument to defend the interests of these countries in accordance with their growing weight in select regions and the world as a whole. These goals have not yet been reached, but their acuteness and their solutions are matters of variable size, not only because some of the goals have already been reached, but also because the world is changing. New contradiction are emerging between developed countries, new opportunities for cooperation are being opened, and so are new approaches to solving global problems. Despite the dynamic changes, all BRICS countries still need an authoritative forum that strengthens their voice and positions on the international arena.
Not to lose face
BRICS does not have a mandatory charter and BRICS summits do not make decisions. They provide a platform to exchange views and coordinate positions. There are contradictions between BRICS countries, but areas of cooperation and common interests always allow for signing a common declaration in the right tone. Right now, China needs this particularly.
First, after the new US administration declared that it would revise its foreign policy strategy, possibly reducing its participation in international affairs, it has become important for China to demonstrate that it has matured enough to take initiative to continue economic globalization on more equitable “win-win” conditions.
Second, the Communist Party of China Congress on November 19 anticipates reports on accomplishments. For China, BRICS is an important international organ for creating an alternative model of international affairs, in which China strives for and has real chances to play a leading role. BRICS is a visible success of Chinese foreign policy and its new place in the world.
BRICS+ and Changes in Global Governance
The BRICS summit in Xiamen is expected to promote business cooperation among member states in a wide range of areas. In essence, BRICS is a forum that consists of five countries which agreed on coordinating their actions in the global economy and geopolitical space. An important direction of BRICS is joint preparation of positions for developing economies in the global architecture. Also important for member states is the emergence of a structure within BRICS that will engage in global politics. Its goal is changing the structure of global governance to make emerging economies take a worthy place in it.
Lastly, China is acting as a host; Chinese traditions will not allow it to “lose face.” It will do everything to make this summit a success.
BRICS countries’ economic goal
The main economic goal of BRICS countries is to continue development and strengthen their economic positions. The growth of their cumulative share in global trade in recent years is happening mostly because of China. However, China is not only the BRICS countries’ largest economic partner. For Russia, developing trade and economic ties with Chine is due not mainly to BRICS, but to the geographic position, the needs of the two countries and the international situation. On the whole, China is helping Russia compensate losses from Western sanctions, but the main results from strengthening economic cooperation in response to sanctions are a more remote prospect.
It is very important that the chasm between the total state power and economic potential of China and other BRICS countries does not increase too much. Otherwise, the “locomotive” could decouple and continue its movement, solving its problems individually with other partners as well.
“Peaceful leadership” of China and India
For China, which said that it is ready to spearhead globalization, any flare-up in relations, particularly with neighbors and countries of the region, is extremely disadvantageous. It must prove that it is capable of peaceful leadership and does not present a threat. It is because of this that unlike in India, the conflict in Doklam is almost never mentioned in China, and any additional attention to it is avoided. India is freer in this regard, but it does not need conflicts either. China is India’s second-biggest trading partner, while India is in the top ten of China’s trading partners. Both countries, having defined their Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence over sixty years ago, still lay claim to leadership in the developing world and are not interested in moving disputes to the international level, particularly the BRICS summit. Bilateral issues will be solved at the bilateral level.
India and China in Doklam Plateau Conflict: Causes and Possible Consequences
A month-long Indian-Chinese war of words over the Doklam Plateau border conflict turned into a hot war in mid-July ,if we are to believe Pakistani media, which reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fired rockets at Indian army positions in Bhutan causing numerous casualties among servicemen. Short-lived though it was, this Pakistani media canard created a surge of panic. What aims are being pursued by the participants? How great is the risk of the conflict escalating into a real hot war? What role can information warfare by all sides play in this?
However, the problem does exist and it could flare up and become primary after both countries gain firm footing as leading global players. For now, this has not happened, but the weakening of the West, and its internal disagreements will smoothen contradictions between it and the large developing countries, level the playing field and aggravate the competition for leadership. In these conditions, there is a temptation to use latent conflicts, deliberately stoking them, to strategically contain India and China at the same time. It should not be forgotten that an unregulated territorial issue between China and India, especially at the trijunction of China, India and Pakistan is a territorial dispute of three nuclear powers. By supporting the tensions in that region, it is possible to influence them.