The 2017 BRICS Summit & Doklam Crisis

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After the Second World War, there was a global shift in the world order. Alliances were earlier formed to counter foreign aggression or to conquer foreign territory, but the destruction and loss of millions of lives led to the emergence of the United Nations to avert war-like situations and resolve disputes through diplomatic channels. The late eighties and early nineties of the 20th Century witnessed the transformation of closed-door economies which accelerated the pace of global economic dependence and cooperation. The economies of different nations relied on developed ones for trade and business.

With the passage of time, the need for creating a platform for cooperation of emerging economies for dispute settlement, economic governance, and other related issues was felt. This need was acknowledged, which led to the establishment of a body, initially named ‘BRIC’. The BRIC was a body of countries from different parts of the world for pragmatic cooperation, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Later, when South Africa was also inducted, it changed to BRICS. BRICS is an association of the five nations, with annual summits buttressed by the meeting of the National Security Advisers, Foreign Ministers and other ministerial-level meetings. The first summit was held in Russia.

It is attended by the heads of the States to discuss issues, and cooperate in areas like agriculture, finance, security, trade, etc. In the year 2017, the 9th Annual Summit was held in Xiamen, China. It was held under heightened tensions between India and China due to the stand-off in the border area. This year, the summit was held under the theme, “BRICS: stronger partnership for a brighter future”. But, this summit, dealing with critical issues, was majorly a ‘cool-off’ between the two growing economies of the world, i.e., India and China.

India-China Diplomacy

The diplomacy between the two countries has always been fluctuating on various grounds. Whether it be blocking India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group by objecting on the ground of it being a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or blocking the proposal to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, China has always created a diplomatic roadblock for India.

There are other diplomatic irritants between India and China. To fulfill the economic ambitions of China, Pakistan is a desirable destination. The One Belt One Road Initiative has been a visionary Chinese project to link economies under one umbrella. To make it successful, the Chinese have always been supportive of Pakistan’s proxy war against India, and this has caused a major diplomatic fallout between India and China. The territorial integrity has been another setback. The issue of Arunachal Pradesh and frequent transgressions by the Chinese troops into the Indian territory have been among reasons for keeping these two nations view each other as a threat.

India, too, channelized its diplomatic strategy effectively to challenge China on many fronts. It has managed to secure a strong relationship with the United States of America and Japan, two of the biggest economic rivals of China. India has also presented its pragmatic stand on the issue of South China Sea, creating a sense of suspicion among the Chinese, of our rising naval presence and future involvement. China does not undermine the military might of India, and it is a cause of concern for China, with India’s growing military collaboration with the world powers. India has managed to establish closer links with Taiwan and Vietnam, further fuelling the suspicion of the Chinese. It is equally important, and moreover, a need for India to play the chess of geopolitics intelligently to counter the growing Chinese aggression, either economic or military.

Doklam Crises and Importance of Diplomacy  

In the midst of all the outstanding issues between India and China, a video surfaced on social media showing the military troops of both nations confronting each other. This turned into serious crisis-like condition. The situation in the Doklam sector led to the suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar yatra, further escalating the situation. The world cautioned as both the countries have excellent military strength, while the major concern was that both are nuclear powers. But, despite de-escalation of heightened threats of war, both the countries gave rhetorical statements demonstrating their military power and putting the blame on each other. The situation worsened when stone-pelting was reported in the Ladakh sector between the armies of the nations.

War is never a solution for anything; under the garb of heightened tensions, India and China made themselves appear prepared for any adverse situation, straying from finding a peaceful solution. The crisis took both the countries back to 1961, when India and China faced each other militarily, leading to heavy causalities. Although India faced a huge loss then, it did not hesitate to draw a distinction between the times and presented itself as a global power. On the other hand, China too resorted to taking a harder line, putting all blame on India, and hinting at a war-like situation through its state-run news channels. De-escalation was required to ensure a peaceful and prosperous South-Asia, as both the nations are seen as key players for the growth and development of other Asian countries. The BRICS Summit scheduled in Xiamen, China was eagerly awaited to see both leaders confronting each other after the recent crisis. But, the tables turned, when both nations, through diplomatic channels, pacified and agreed to pull back their troops, relaxing the Summit happening under a tense climate; the leaders applauded the move that averted a major crisis.

The end of the crisis can be presented as a recent and noteworthy example of the importance of diplomacy in the current age. The BRICS Summit worked as a cool-off factor here. Both the nations have identified each other’s importance for co-existence; no nation can deny their neighbors’ presence for growth and development. The termination of tensions led to the success of the conference. In a joint statement, China agreed to identify the terror groups operating from Pakistan as global threats. China itself cannot deny being a victim of terror due to the rising terrorist activities in the Xinjiang province. Many commentators have perceived this move, much to India’s surprise, as a diplomatic victory that would strengthen the cooperation between both nations. But, India must not turn a blind eye; China has been known for taking a stand back on several issues.

Overall, the purpose of this piece is to highlight the significance of the recent BRICS Summit in the light of Doklam crisis and how such summits are crucial to resolving issues diplomatically rather than direct military confrontation.


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