In a move that will hurt India’s interests Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has proposed the idea of including other developing countries under the banner of BRICS Plus, reported Times of India.
Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, Wang said China would "explore modalities for BRICS-plus, to 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. China will host the next BRICS summit in September.
For BRICS which is a five-member grouping at present which includes - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the move might mean that the focus on development for which the group was initially constituted will be lost. It is expected that China will use the platform of BRICS Plus to invite its allies like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mexico to join and give a political hue to the negotiations.
The role of India as well as other member-nations will get diluted in the process "India would be the worst affected among BRICS partners. After expansion, the organization would lose its focus and coherence on development issues and become more like a political platform for China," Mohan Malik, professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies at Honolulu in US, told TNN.
In addition to this, it has to be noted that the challenges faced by the BRICS economies are varied and even after seven years of its inception, the grouping has not yet consolidated itself. The differences between India and China over the latter’s support to Pakistan has escalated tensions between both the countries. At a time like this, a platform like BRICS-Plus will reduce the scope for negotiations and will also reduce the role that BRICS nations can play in driving the growth of the global economy.
It will be contrary to the objective laid down by the Chinese foreign minister of strengthening the BRICS partnership. "As President Xi put it, BRICS are like five fingers each with their own strength but when we come together we are a fist that can punch. When we stay united we won't lose lustre but will shine more brightly," he said.
Any expansion of BRICS at this point will defeat the very purpose of the grouping. After Goldman Sachs published its report in 2001 coining the term ‘BRIC’, the countries came together to debate and deliberate on important economic and developmental issues. In the light of this, caution should be exercised to not let political concerns take over the grouping.