Among various tactical considerations, the two decisive factors that finally helped dissolve the India-China standoff (since June 18) over Doklam on August 28 were Bhutan’s non-belligerent position and, surprisingly, Mexico’s growing interest in the BRICS platform.
On Aug 11, at the “first meeting between the two (Indian and Bhutanese) ministers since the Doklam crisis broke out”, the Bhutanese foreign minister did not ask for, nor authorize, India to act on Bhutan’s behalf. Instead, he said, “We hope the situation in Doklam will be resolved peacefully and amicably.” So, New Delhi is in no position to justify the standoff against Beijing.
Another factor, I reckon, is Mexican president Pena Nieto’s timely decision to participate into the BRICS business forum which is to be held in Xiamen on September 3-5. It is a new development that India cannot stay away from. As Mexico is now in trouble with the Trump administration over both trade and illegal migration, Mexico’s turn towards China is understandable, logical and sensible. Given that Mexico’s GDP size in nominal terms is the 15th largest in the world (China 2nd, India 7th, Brazil 9th, Russia 12th, South Africa 20th), the BRICS members cannot resist the opportunity to forge a closer tie with this power as Mexico’s relationship with the United States might further deteriorate if the free trade pact between them really went sour.
The BRICS has already been in good shape to function as a unified economic entity in the world arena with a New Development Bank of its own. It has the potential of becoming a rule-setting body for the long term economic growth and financial dynamics of most Third World countries, thus escaping from the undue influence from the EU and the US.
The Modi government might be unhappy with the close relationship between China and Pakistan, and therefore reluctant to join China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. Yet, it fully understands that India will definitely be a big loser if it drops out of the BRICS.
As what my 2014 article [Note 1] argued, both India and China are pragmatic rather than ideological on their way transforming the new world order. After some minor spats, these two Asian giants will learn more on how to adapt to each other.
China Daily Mail, “India and China’s pragmatism to challenge U.S. superpower status”, Sept 26, 2014.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.