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BRI to Brics: Monopoly vs competition

The writer is an advocate practising in the Supreme Court. The views expressed here are personal.
Published : Aug 22, 2017, 12:48 am IST
Updated : Aug 22, 2017, 12:48 am IST

Brics is the forum of five competing powers, apparent bonding thereof, on the lines of the EU or G-7.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. (Photo: AP)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. (Photo: AP)

Modi may not attend Brics summit”, gleefully screamed the now-notorious rabid anti-India Chinese daily on August 16. As is well known, Brics consists of five nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which have a collective GDP of approximately $16 trillion (2013), with a population of around three billion. And, indisputably, India is one of the key players. Hence, to suggest that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi “may not attend” such a gathering requires some probing into the “potential situational awareness” created by the Chinese media (at the behest of the powers that be).

Understandably, though the world at large is by now used to the venom-spitting language of the state-controlled Chinese media — owing to its inability to fine-tune linguistic aesthetics and failure to master, and develop, a minimum command and control over the universally-accepted English language — what makes Beijing red hot with frustration is the prospect of the reality getting unmasked. Despite China’s $10 trillion-plus GDP, its credibility is sinking at an alarming pace. And it’s likely to hit Beijing further hard in future where it hurts most — in economics.

That is the primary reason for its rising bellicosity towards India. An India which “did not matter” and which in Beijing’s scheme of things still “does not matter” has suddenly propped up in China’s psyche, media, polity and military planning.

This psyche appears clear. “India is no match to China”, blares Beijing’s 24x7 broadcasting outfit. If that’s the case, then how did New Delhi have the audacity to “boycott” the BRI/CPEC/OBOR meet held in Beijing in May 2017? How dare they? This is an unpardonable humiliation for China by an upstart, and contemptuous India must be taught a lesson! If India could not accept the supremacy of China in BRI (CPEC/OBOR) in Beijing, it needn’t come for Brics in September as a rival and competitor to Beijing!

BRI is China’s monopoly. Brics is the forum of five competing powers, apparent bonding thereof, on the lines of the EU or G-7. Even if the five-nation Brics becomes a four-nation Brics, so be it. China would be happy to see India out of Brics. It would be “good riddance” as China feels life may not be same again after BRI/CPEC/OBOR and the Doklam challenge of India. For China, thus, it is essential to see Narendra Modi out of the Brics summit. Therefore, it is quite possible China will do more than what it takes to ensure Mr Modi’s “unavoidable absence” at Brics “owing to a developing situation at home”.

Once that happens, it would be a walkover of/for the Chinese diplomatic, political and economic assault on India. The writing on the wall is clear. So desperate is China to see the Indian PM’s back that an all-out media assault has been launched to create a situation. Anyone with the slightest of idea of China’s attitude and action would vouch that Beijing is a world topper in castigating and calling names to demoralise and compel opponents into submission.

In the past, till the beginning of the 20th century, all foreigners, in China’s eyes, were barbarians. It was a Sino-centric world order (through Chinese eyes only). It still is. Hence, all foreigners, if admitted to the court in the emperor’s presence, were expected to kowtow. That publicly demonstrated the barbarian foreigner’s submission to the Chinese ruler of heaven. Needless to say, that psyche remains embedded in Beijing’s body politic. There is no way it could be anything other than what it is even today.

This mentality of China poses a challenge for India. No Indian ruler can afford to do what China wants the world to do, as country after country is falling by the wayside of China’s cunning, deceit, coercion, blackmail, bullying and morsel-like bribery of the ruling class of countries China considers as pigmies.

India could be less prosperous than the Hans of China, but Indians are certainly no pigmies. Indians have been grotesquely painted as corrupt by India’s Western masters of yesteryears, but they have not yet surpassed the likes of the corrupt Warren Hastings, Cornwallis, Dalhousie or the 21st century Chinese!

There’s no doubt that India faces corruption in its system, but corrupt Indians are pigmies in front of China’s mega-corrupt men and their means to destroy any nation through money, and more money. One suspects the 21st century Chinese way was the one through which the mighty Soviet Union was destroyed once and for all — by the lure of dollars in the 1980s-1990s.

The moot point today, therefore, is stark. As Indian troops face the possibility of a prolonged standoff in the high hills of the Himalayas, and Beijing continues to make money through virtually one-way (Sino-Indian) bilateral trade, unhindered and unimpeded, there is little doubt that China will continue to try its best, through all means, fair or foul, to create and worsen situations on several fronts. It will result in an internal uproar, which might compel Prime Minister Narendra Modi to skip the September 2017 Brics summit in Xiamen, China.

Mr Modi truly faces a daunting task. Nevertheless, come what may, even at the possibility of a real external challenge and fierce internal criticism, he must hold ground and make it a point to attend the Brics summit in China in September.

In a fast-unfolding, deteriorating diplomatic and worsening security scenario, there is every need for the Indian PM to not only attend the summit, but also take centrestage on the home ground of his Han hosts. Else, it would amount to leaving a vital geo-strategic and geo-economic space to a reckless, irresponsible aspiring superpower called China.

India, at this stage, certainly can’t afford to be seen running away from the challenge thrown at the world in general, and India in particular, by the uncivilised and uncouth behaviour of a so-called ancient civilisation. Brics may be referred to as cooperation, but it also stands for competition. This is in direct contrast to BRI, which is a monopoly of the Chinese ruling class, headed by President Xi Jinping.

Tags: brics summit, narendra modi, xi jinping