Two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, sources indicated that New Delhi is willing to “move on” after the Doklam border stand-off and work towards normalising the relationship. Modi and Xi are likely to meet at noon on Tuesday, just before the Prime Minister heads off to Myanmar after the BRICS Summit. The bilateral meeting is likely to focus on repairing the damage done to the relationship, and would dwell on “confidence-building” measures, after the tense stand-off where the rhetoric coming out of Beijing was perceived to be extremely hostile. Efforts will be made to “bury” the incident that has cast a shadow on the ties. Track LIVE updates from BRICS Summit here
This is the approach with which New Delhi is planning to go into the Xi-Modi meeting. Indications from Beijing were also positive, as was witnessed in Xi’s statement. Just about four hours before Modi landed in rain-soaked Xiamen, on the south-eastern coast of China, Xi on Sunday emphasised the need for “peace” and “development”, not “conflict and confrontation”. Stressing that the days of “law of jungle” and “zero sum game” are over, Xi stressed on “win-win cooperation” for BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Xi’s comments, coming days after the 10-week-long border stand-off at Doklam was resolved peacefully, set the stage for the 9th BRICS summit. It also set the tone for a meeting between Modi and Xi, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.
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“We, BRICS countries, should shoulder our responsibilities to uphold global peace and stability. Peace and development both reinforce each other. People around the world want peace and cooperation, not conflict or confrontation. Thanks to the joint efforts of all countries, global peace has reigned for more than half a century,” said Xi, speaking at the BRICS business forum on Sunday afternoon.
Listening to him were Brazil’s President Michel Temer and South African President Jacob Zuma. While both Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived after the speech, some Indian diplomats and officials were present at the session.
“In terms of BRICS cooperation, decisions are made through consultation (and) not by one country. We respect each other’s model of development, accommodate each other’s concern and work to enhance strategic communication and mutual trust,” said Xi.
“Given the difference in national conditions, history and cultures, it is only natural that we may have some differences in pursuing our cooperation… However, with strong faith in cooperation and enhancing collaboration, the BRICS countries can achieve steady progress in our cooperation,” he said, during his 43-minute speech.
“The law of the jungle, where the strong prey on the weak, and the zero sum game are rejected, and peace, development and win-win cooperation have become the shared aspiration of all people… BRICS cooperation is a natural choice as we all desire peace and development,” he said, months after Chinese troops attempted to build a road at Doklam, triggering a 10-week diplomatic crisis enveloping India and Bhutan.
“Since the very beginning, our five countries have been guided by principles of dialogue without confrontation, partnership without alliance. We are committed to observing the principles of the UN Charter, international law and basic norms governing international relations in conducting state-to-state relations,” said Xi.
The Chinese President also mentioned his flagship initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — which New Delhi has objected to since the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is part of the One Belt, One Road project. And, in a bid to assuage India’s misgivings on the project, he said BRI is not a tool to “advance any geopolitical agenda”, but a platform for cooperation.
“Last May, China successfully hosted the belt and road forum for international cooperation, which was attended by 29 heads of state or government and also over 1,600 representatives from more than 140 countries and 80+ international organisations. This ushered in a new stage of translating the BRI from vision to action and from planning to implementation. Foreign participants discussed ways of promoting cooperation and development and reached a broad consensus. Let me make this clear, the BRI is not a tool to advance any geopolitical agenda, but a platform for cooperation. It is not a foreign aid scheme but an initiative for interconnected development which calls for extensive and practical cooperation. I am convinced that the Belt and Road Initiative will serve as a new platform for all countries to achieve win-win cooperation and that it will create new opportunities for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Xi said.
He also said BRICS should promote the “BRICS Plus” approach to build an open and diversified network of development partners.
China has invited Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as special guests for the BRICS summit, like India invited BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic) leaders for last year’s BRICS summit in Goa.
Xi said the BRICS countries should work to usher in the second golden decade. “It is time to set sail when the tide rises,” Xi said, adding that countries should work to let their economic cooperation have more substance.