By Sutirtho Patranobis
China on Monday said it supports India hosting this year’s BRICS summit and will work with New Delhi to strengthen the bloc, allaying concerns that the India-China border dispute will impact the forum.
India assumed the rotating chairmanship of the five-member summit, comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on January 1, taking over from Russia, which hosted the last summit as an online event in November because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
India taking over the BRICS leadership, for the third time since the group was formed, comes at a sensitive time as New Delhi’s ties with Beijing are facing their worst challenges in decades. It’s only after nine months and several rounds of negotiations that border troops have disengaged from the south and north banks of Pangong Lake.
“We support India in hosting this year’s meeting. We will work with it and other members to strengthen communication and dialogue and consolidate the three-pillar cooperation, expand BRICS plus cooperation and work for greater progress under BRICS,” the foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, when asked whether the India-China border dispute will impact BRICS.
The “three pillars” Wang referred to are policy and security; economy and finance; and culture and people-to-people exchanges.
China will “also help the world to defeat Covid-19, resume economic growth and improve global governance,” Wang further added.
Wang said that BRICS is a cooperation mechanism of global influence consisting of emerging economies and developing countries which “in recent years it has seen greater solidarity, deeper practical cooperation and a greater influence”.
It is now a positive, stable, and constructive force in international affairs,” he said.
“China attaches importance to this mechanism, and we are committed to deepening strategic partnership within it to consolidate solidarity and cooperation,” Wang said.
He did not respond to the question on whether President Xi Jinping will attend the BRICS summit in India.
In his address during the last summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India would focus on improving cooperation within the bloc.
“During our presidency in 2021, we will try enhancing intra-BRICS cooperation by strengthening all the three pillars. We will endeavour to enhance intra-BRICS solidarity and develop a solid institutional framework for this purpose,” Modi said.
In December, China complimented India for hosting the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in late November, saying all member states spoke highly of the conference’s outcomes. It was the first-time India had hosted the SCO Council of Heads of Government after it joined the eight-member grouping in 2017.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday attended the virtual meeting of the bloc which was also addressed by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu. ( HT )