Post Doklam, Modi-Xi tango at BRICS, security embrace with Myanmar

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The ninth BRICS Summit is scheduled to be held from September 3 to 5 in Xiamen, China. The Summit is significant as it comes immediately after India and China agreed to withdraw their respective troops from the India-China border, thus bringing an end to the two-month long border standoff.

As BRICS Summits are attended by the heads of state of the member nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present at the Summit, leading the Indian delegation. It is expected that the Indian Prime Minister will hold a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Summit.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, in a press briefing held on Friday, stated that sideline meetings are common practices at multilateral forums. Additionally, Kumar also reaffirmed India’s stance on terrorism in response to an earlier statement made by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, who stated that the forum would not be an appropriate forum to discuss Pakistan’s counter-terrorism. Kumar said that India’s position on terrorism has been very clear and it has been raising the issue at various multilateral forums.

Following the multilateral forum in China, PM modi will visit Myanmar from September 5 to 7. The visit is a step towards strengthening India and Myanmar’s security commitments in countering insurgency at the border. Additionally, the visit will also focus on expanding defence and security partnerships.

Apart from bilateral commitments, the Myanmar visit holds great significance as Myanmar also serves the role of India’s gateway to Southeast Asia. As an extension of this, India has put forward highway and port infrastructure plans to be built in Myanmar with their cooperation. This includes the Indo-Myanmar-Thai highway and Kaladan multi-modal project including Sittwe Port, both of which are seen as alternatives to China’s OBOR Initiative.

PM Modi’s visit to Myanmar will be a further affirmation of India’s commitment towards its sphere of influence in South Asia. This should provide an alternative to China for Myanmar and other countries neighbouring India. In recent years, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have witnessed expensive infrastructure projects funded by the Chinese and in Myanmar’s case, the country is currently facing a debt-crisis as a result of this and is being forced to handover majority stake in a deep sea port to China. India as an ally could provide the counterbalance Myanmar needs to negotiate a better deal for itself as was done in Sri Lanka.

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