Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President of China Xi Jinping will be on the same platform within a week when executive heads of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) come together for a virtual summit on 17 November to focus on economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the invitation of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Modi will join the virtual BRICS Summit on the theme “Global stability, shared security and innovative growth”.
Being held while the world is still struggling to fight the pandemic cause by the Chinese origin coronavirus, the summit will discuss intra-BRICS cooperation and key global issues such as reforming the multilateral system, measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and cooperation in counterterrorism, trade, health and energy.
This will be the second time Modi and Xi will be on the same virtual platform since the India-China border standoff, which became public knowledge in May. On 10 November, Modi and Xi had participated in the virtual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), hosted by Russia. In an indirect reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Modi had urged SCO members to respect the territorial integrity of countries while implementing connectivity projects.
The top leadership of India and China are expected to be on the same online platform during five meetings this month. Besides the SCO Summit on 10 November, the East Asia Summit on 14 November and the BRICS Summit on 17 November, the two countries will participate in the G20 Summit during 21-22 November and the SCO council of heads of government meeting on 30 November.
Both leaders had shared the SCO virtual platform earlier in November. In that summit, PM Modi had called for the need to “carry forward with the core principles respecting each other’s sovereignty, and territorial integrity”.
The remarks come in the backdrop of increased aggressiveness by the Chinese forces at the LoAC that saw the death of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan in eastern Ladakh. Ties between the two countries have gone downhill since then even as one of the longest standoffs between Indian and Chinese forces continues.
Asked about the bilateral issues between India and China dominating the meet, Russia’s Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed it, saying, “BRICS has never thought about being a universal platform for resolving various international problems… no bilateral conflicts in it, so BRICS is the spirit of co-thinkers. It has worked to achieve a common positive result… both India and China can benefit from participation in BRICS.” Russia is the host of this year’s summit and decides all the programs for this year vis-a-vis the grouping.
India will be the host of 2021’s BRICS summit as its president. This is the third time, the country will be the chair of the BRICS Presidency since its inception. It was BRICS chair in 2012 and 2016. The summit, if takes place physically could see Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting the country.