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Invitation for five countries to BRICS not attempt to expand grouping, says China

The invitation has the potential to worry India if it turns out that it’s an attempt by Beijing to include pro-China countries within the BRICS fold.

world Updated: Aug 30, 2017 22:02 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
BRICS Summit,foreign minister Wang Yi,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi at a news briefing in Beijing ahead of the 9th BRICS Summit on August 30, 2017.(Reuters)

China has invited five countries to participate as guests in next week’s BRICS Summit but this is not an attempt by Beijing to expand the grouping under a “BRICS Plus” approach, foreign minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday.

Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand will join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in the coastal city of Xiamen during September 3-5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will represent India at the three-day meet.

“We need to have some further explanation about BRICS Plus to help people better understand the rationale of this idea,” Wang said during a briefing on BRICS.

Wang first floated the idea of “BRICS Plus” in March, when he spoke about exploring modalities for expanding the grouping and holding outreach dialogues with other major developing countries.

The approach has the potential to worry India if it turns out that it’s an attempt by Beijing to include pro-China countries within the BRICS fold.

Explaining the decision to invite the five countries, Wang referred to India’s decision at last year’s BRICS summit in Goa to invite leaders of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic) countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Wang noted that President Xi Jinping had attended the dialogue with BIMSTEC leaders and respected and supported Modi’s initiative. “That dialogue was very effective,” he said.

He further referred to Russia, Brazil and South Africa inviting their neighbours when they hosted the BRICS Summits.

Wang also indirectly sought to allay apprehensions about the “BRICS Plus” approach.

Addressing an annual news conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, the Chinese parliament, Wang said China would "explore modalities for BRICS Plus (and) hold outreach dialogues with other major developing countries".

"We hope to establish extensive partnerships and widen our circle of friends to turn it into the most impactful platform for South-South cooperation," he said. “So actually, this has been a practice that we have for a number of years and this time, inspired by the experiences of previous BRICS leaders’ meetings, we have invited some countries for dialogue.”

Wang added, “Our practice is a little bit different, we are not just inviting countries in our neighbourhood, but also countries from all around the world that are interested in the BRICS mechanism...I want to stress that this is the arrangement for this year, (it) doesn’t mean that these five countries will always be invited to BRICS meetings in future.”

Wang said the remaining BRICS members, including India, have supported China’s invitation to the five countries.

“We have given a name to this practice of inviting non-BRICS countries, that is BRICS Plus, but as to how many countries are going to be invited as Plus countries, it is not a fixed number,” he said.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 16:43 IST