By Ishaal Zehra
It is said that China makes time an ally. And the recent BRICS summit held at Xiamen, China, upheld the saying. Understandably, some are calling this summit the second coming of BRICS.
Not long back, the United States was seen criticizing China of building a ‘great wall of self-isolation’ around herself. Today the Geopolitical environment has changed with such a degree that opposite seem more accurate. The most obvious change, in this altering scenario, has been the advent of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. Since his beginning in the oval office, he has been a disruptive force internationally. His rebuking of climate change, globalization, treaty allies accompanied by the policies of continuing US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq signals abandonment of American exceptionalism; that holds that the United States is extraordinarily unique among nations in a very positive way, particularly with respect to its ideals of democracy and personal freedom.
KC Singh, a former Indian ambassador who retired as secretary in the external affairs ministry explains the situation in quite apropos way. He opines, “Trump has approved a significant troop surge in Afghanistan, berated Pakistan for its complicity in abetting terror, needled China over its unwillingness or inability to restrain North Korea, and found US-Russia relations in a bind with the Congress sanctioning Russia and the president not knowing whether he trusts or distrusts President Vladimir Putin.” Whereas, “the BRICS Summit was hosted by China to see how it could leverage the grouping to capture more of the strategic space vacated by Trump, and impose a new order with Chinese characteristics on global trade, finance and governance.”
Though China was at a stand-off with India at the Doklam border, still she triumphed to incapacitate the unpleasant situation and managed to tempt India to the summit. Rightly assessing the Indian prime ministers passion for publicity, particularly when the news at home about economy and governance is depressing, China lured him to the BRICS summit entrapping into a political trap.
President Xi once described the BRICS spirit as “equality, innovation, win-win cooperation in seeking common ground while reserving differences,” which has become a major modality of cooperation. During this meeting in Xiamen, discussions have been held on South-South cooperation, international development and cooperation plans. The BRICS summit also pledged opposition to protectionism, denounced North Korea’s latest nuclear test, tougher measures against terrorist groups and the UN reforms. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed in a joint declaration to strengthen cooperation against a range of terrorist organizations, including some allegedly based in Pakistan.
India has been calling it a major diplomatic victory and jubilating since then. Although the BRICS statement contained some strong language against terrorism, it deplored “all terrorist attacks worldwide” and condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever”, while stressing that “there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism”. “We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable,” it said.
Notably, the statement did not refer to Pakistan by name. Interestingly, a Chinese expert, Wang Dehua from the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies said “he frequently hears from Pakistan that India supports the Balochistan militants and other subversive groups active along the Pak-Afghan.” So the declaration must be seen in a vice versa case.
Responding to India’s propaganda, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in a written response, told Press Trust of India that BRICS countries have “shown their concerns to the violent activities raised by these organizations”. “These organizations are all sanctioned by the UN Security Council and have a significant impact for Afghanistan issue”.
Reacting to the BRICS summit document, Islamabad said that Pakistan was also “seriously concerned” about the threat posed by terrorism and extremism in the South Asian region. “Many terrorist groups based in the region, including in Afghanistan, such as the TTP and its associates like JuA have been responsible for extreme acts of violence against Pakistani people. We are deeply concerned at the presence of groups like Daesh, ETIM and IMU in the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan as they pose a threat to peace and security in the region. Pakistan also remains concerned at the rise of extremist ideologies and intolerance in the region encouraging social stratification and systematic targeting of minorities,”
A week earlier, China had ruled out any discussions on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen. Beijing said it would not be an appropriate topic to be taken up by the group. China knows quite well and also appreciate the Pakistani efforts and sacrifices Pakistan has rendered in this war against terror. Needless to say that the Beijing has been standing with her all-weather friend Pakistan through every thick and thin. China’s repeatedly blocking of India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the pretext of giving an equal opportunity to Pakistan for the membership of the group, proves the case. Besides, if someone thinks that China will belittle her trade partner whom it has financed with the $46-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, is perhaps living in a dream house.