India objects to BRICS supporting China’s BRI

India and China are working together to find common ground ahead of the BRICS summit in September, despite their differences over docking the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the grouping in the future.

The Hindu has learnt that at a conference of the political parties, think-tanks and civil society groups of the BRICS countries held in Fuzhou, Indian and Chinese delegates failed to arrive at a consensus that the five emerging economies should formally support the BRI. Brazil, Russia and South Africa are the other members in the BRICS grouping. The Fuzhou conference, organised by the Communist Party of China, is widely seen as an important component in framing the outcome of the BRICS summit, which will be held in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen.

The differences between the two delegations became evident when the text of the Fuzhou Initiative, released at the end of the conference, was changed, on the insistence of India.

‘Great significance’

Paragraph 14 of the first document’s first version had commended “the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China” for its “great significance for achieving development in developing countries…” However, since a consensus could not be achieved, the entire paragraph was dropped in the final version, which was finally adopted at the conference. A source privy to closed door deliberations, which resulted in recommendations for the BRICS summit as a separate “outcome” document, said that Indian side, nevertheless, expressed its willingness to support individual connectivity projects, provided they were not tied up with the BRI.

India had boycotted last month’s Belt and Road Forum, hosted by China for promoting the BRI.