Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for South Africa to attend the BRICS Summit to be held from August 22 to 24 in Johannesburg.
There has been an indication that Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Modi may have a bilateral meeting, according to the Chinese sources.
China’s ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong told the media, ‘I am confident that as two nations, two countries, we will have direct talks, direct meetings’
‘I cannot say there is tension between us, but as neighbouring countries, we have many common interests at the same time we have some problems,’ Bloomberg reported him as saying.
While Modi and Jinping did meet during the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022, this could be their first officially scheduled meeting since the border skirmishes in 2020.
BRICS as a group represents 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the world’s territory, 23% of global GDP, and around 18% of world trade, according to the official website.
An informal meeting of the BRIC grouping was held in 2006 among Russia, India, and China on the sidelines of the G8 Outreach Summit in Russia.
The first formal meeting was in 2009, also in Russia. South Africa joined in 2010, expanding the group to ‘BRICS.’
The ‘Global South’ now has increased prominence on the world stage that is set to to challenge the dominance of European and Western countries at international forums and institutions, such as the United Nations.
With the economic rise of countries such as India and China in recent decades, the creation of fora such as G20 have addressed the lack of representation of the Asian economies on the global stage, as well as countering the influence of the US.
Similarly, BRICS came about to enhance cooperation between its five member countries, be it political or economic, such as through the New Development Bank, which provides financial support to developing markets for improving infrastructure.
BRICS has evolved over the years, as China has gained significantly more economic heft than others in the grouping.
China and Russia are also now joining hands against the West as the Ukraine War becomes the stage on which geopolitical loyalties are determined.
India, while maintaining cordial relations with Russia and not-so-cordial relations with China, is also deepening its relations in spheres of economy and technology with the US, which has not been a traditional ally.
This makes having a common BRICS policy and cooperation within the grouping a bit more challenging, as equations change.
As a post-COVID world emerges and the world in which the group first was formed no longer really exists, the BRICS chairmanship rotates among the group annually.
This year, the agenda of the 15th Summit is ‘BRICS in Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism’
Notably, both China and Russia have developed a significant presence in Africa in recent years. China has made investments worth billions of dollars in various infrastructure projects, and Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group, whose troops also participated in the Ukraine War, has also made its inroads in several local conflicts.
Further, in July, a South African diplomat said that more than twenty countries have formally expressed an interest in joining the grouping, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain and Indonesia are also keen on getting a membership.
For India, as a core member of the BRICS, its major efforts would be to represent the Global South. It could also be a moment where the Summit could help resolve matters such as the Indo-China border conflict from a diplomatic perspective.
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