The China-India confrontation and the BRICS countries

Qian Benli


The Chinese and Indian armies have already been in a stalemate over China and Bhutan’s disputed territory for more than a month. In addition to the strong words expressed by public opinion on both sides, the militaries have been gearing up on the ground without showing any signs of weakness. Therefore even if in the end they do not fight a real hot war, it is difficult to see how this September’s BRICS summit in Xiamen can be a complete success.

At the beginning of the G20 summit Xi Jinping and Modi did not hold talks, and if the confrontation is not resolved by September it is likely that India will either not send a delegation or only send a low level delegation to Xiamen and cause a big embarrassment to the host country.

But the so called BRICS were not actually originally a closely united group of allies—a clever mind from Goldman Sachs came up with this fashionable concept, and faced with isolation Russia and China were able to use it to bring comfort to themselves. Amongst the other three countries, India and South Africa are commonwealth countries and Brazil has been pursuing a pro-US policy since the Second World War. Although all three of these countries want to become the dominant powers in their regions (South Asia, Africa and South America) and from time to time challenge the old imperialist countries, they are certainly not willing to join the Sino-Russian camp to confront the West.

Now that there is confrontation between China and India, the other BRICS countries will adopt the mentality of watching the games but will not mediate. South Africa is the smallest economy in the BRICS and will naturally hope that it will not offend anyone. Brazil is geographically the farthest away from the conflict and has consistently pursued a non-interventionist policy. Russia is the vilest and has stepped up arms sales to both sides.

But the nature of the current conflict between China and India, no longer represents blocks far away from the world’s centre but involves two emerging world powers in the global imperialist system. Although, after the Cold War, the disintegration of the Soviet Union ended the barrier between the two major imperialist camps and led to US dominance, all the forces originating from the division of the camps have made ruling the world more complicated. The economic crisis, the protracted war operations in the Middle East, the rise of new economic powers, disputes between the interests of old allies have gradually made the US weaker and its influence in many parts of the world continues to shrink.

The world’s law of the jungle system decides that someone will soon fill the power vacuum. China’s One Belt, One Road is intended to encroach on the control of the regions linking Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa. But India also coverts the resources, markets, strategic locations and geopolitical relations hidden in these regions, and its geographical location is advantageous China. Therefore, the collision between the two is inevitable.

Outside the BRICS, India has additional international support. The dispute over the maritime channels linking the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East and Africa is one example. India and the US and Japan have formed an alliance. For the US or Japan, as long as China is stronger than India, their priority will be containing the former. However, they will never let India become the real master of the Indian Ocean. As the saying goes, there cannot be eternal friends, only eternal interests.