China’s President Xi Jinping may travel to India in the second half of this year to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders’ meeting, if the summit goes ahead in person. The visit would come in the aftermath of the most serious border crisis between the neighbours in decades.
China expressed its support for India in hosting this year's BRICS summit and said it will work with New Delhi to strengthen the cooperation among the five-member grouping of emerging economies.
On February 19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar launched India’s BRICS 2021 website at the BRICS Secretariat at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan in New Delhi.
Asked about India assuming the BRICS Chairmanship this year, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here that Beijing backs New Delhi in hosting the summit.
"The BRICS, consisting of emerging markets and developing countries, is a cooperation mechanism with global influence," Wang said.
"In recent years, with growing cohesion, stronger practical cooperation and rising influence, BRICS has become a constructive force for stability in international affairs," he said.
"China attaches high importance to the BRICS cooperation mechanism. It stays committed to consolidating BRICS strategic partnership and the positive momentum in BRICS solidarity and cooperation," he said.
"We support India in hosting this year's BRICS meetings and stand ready to work together with it and other members to strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields, advance the three-pillar-driven cooperation in economic, political and cultural sectors, and expand ‘BRICS Plus’ cooperation to realise solid, sound and sustained progress in BRICS cooperation and to contribute to the international community's efforts to defeat Covid-19, resume economic growth and improve global governance," he said.
Wang, however, did not specify whether Chinese President Xi Jinping would attend the summit expected to be held later this year.
Xi has attended all the annual summits of the five-member bloc in the past, including the one last year hosted via video link by Russia in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part.
Modi travelled to the Chinese city of Xiamen in 2017 for the BRICS summit after India and China resolved the 73-day standoff at Doklam.
Observers don’t rule out the chances of Xi’s travel to India if this year’s BRICS conference is held in-person doing away with the virtual concept provided the Covid-19 is contained by the time of summit dates.
China’s announcement backing India to host the BRICS summit came as the armies of the two countries began disengagement of troops locked in over an eight-month-long standoff in eastern Ladakh.
Both countries have reached a mutual agreement for disengagement of troops from the most contentious area of North and South Pangong Lake.
Military commanders of both armies held the 10th round of talks on the Chinese side of the Moldo/Chushul border meeting point on February 20.
A joint statement issued at the end of a lengthy round of talks said the two sides positively appraised the smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area, noting that it was a significant step forward that provided a good basis for resolution of other remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector.
With PTI inputs