BEIJING: China has invited Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as guest countries for the upcoming BRICS summit but clarified that the invitation is not an attempt to expand the group under its ‘BRICS Plus’ approach.
China will host the BRICS summit in Xiamen city from September 3 to 5 in which leaders of the five countries will participate, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We need to have some further explanation about the BRICS Plus to help people better understand the rationale of this idea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing, addressing the media about BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.
Mr Wang has been floating the ‘BRICS Plus’ approach from March this year sparking speculation that Beijing is mooting the expansion of the emerging economies bloc.
Explaining the ‘BRICS Plus’ approach, Mr Wang said the member countries have been inviting different countries during the annual summits of the group and referred to India’s decision to invite leaders of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic) for last year’s Goa summit in which Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal are members.
Referring to the Goa summit, Mr Wang said Chinese President Xi Jinping also attended the dialogue with BIMSTEC leaders and respected and supported the initiative of Prime Minister Modi.
“That dialogue was very effective,” he said, replying to a question seeking explanation about China’s ‘BRICS Plus’ concept whether it has support of all other members as the group takes decisions on consensus.
Mr Wang also referred to Russia, Brazil and South Africa inviting their neighbouring countries when they hosted the BRICS summits.
“So actually this has been a practice that we have for number of years and this time, inspired by the experiences of previous BRICS leaders meeting, we have invited some countries for dialogue,” he said, referring to the invitation to the five countries.
“Our practice is little bit different, we are not just inviting countries in our neighbourhood, but also countries from all around the world that are interested in BRICS mechanism, altogether five countries have been invited,” he said.
“I want to stress that this is the arrangement for this year, doesn’t mean that these five countries will always will be invited to BRICS meetings in future,” he said.
China’s invitation to the five countries has been supported by the leaders of the four other countries including India, Mr Wang said.
“We have given a name to this practice of inviting non- BRICS countries, that is BRICS Plus, but as to how many countries that are going to be invited as Plus countries, it is not a fixed number,” he said.
The guest countries will be decided by the host country, he said adding that BRICS Plus acts with the aim and purpose of the dialogue which is consistent.
“We want to broaden the discussion to non-BRICS countries as well. I am confident that the dialogue this year will also be a success and also help expand BRICS influence. This is not only consistent with the interests of BRICS members but also meets the common aspirations of emerging markets and developing countries,” Mr Wang said.
He also sought to allay concerns that only India and China have been registering faster growth in the BRICS bloc while the economies of Russia, Brazil and South Africa remained sluggish.
“The five BRICS countries have maintained economic growth to different degrees. You mentioned that China and India are growing relatively faster than the rest three countries. They actually have recovered growth and enjoy a bright prospect,” Mr Wang said.
Their recovery is no easy achievement as the world economic recovery is sluggish, the impact of the international financial crisis is still lingering.
“The five BRICS countries enjoy bright prospects of development,” he said.