Discover more from Tracking People's Daily
HK Visit Hangover - Yang Jiechi in Zimbabwe - Wang Yi's 'Three Upholdings' for ASEAN - Origins of Chinese Civilisation Project - My Take on a Changing BRICS
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy in the Monday, July 4, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily. Also, at the bottom of the newsletter today, I’m sharing my latest article in the Times of India today on the shifts taking place in the BRICS.
Page 1: There’s still a bit of a hangover from Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong last week in the paper today. For instance, at the top of the page is a report about the fourth volume of ‘Xi Jinping: The Governance of China’ being released in Hong Kong.
Next, there’s a long piece essentially recapping the key developments from Xi’s visit. It highlights the key points from Xi’s speech (You can see the breakdown of this in my weekly Eye on China newsletter) at the ceremony on July 1, and then talks about his meetings with John Lee, Carrie Lam, people from different sectors of society, and his visit to the PLA Garrison. After that, the article argues that Hong Kong’s development is linked to the mainland, and emphasises the need to focus on technological advancement, develop the Greater Bay Area, and address livelihood issues.
Third, there’s a commentary drawing from Xi’s speech. This says that in his speech, Xi put forward four expectations for Hong Kong going forward:
Hong Kong should further improve its governance
Hong Kong should continue to create strong impetus for growth
Hong Kong should earnestly address people's concerns and difficulties in daily life
the people of Hong Kong should work together to safeguard harmony and stability
It says that that speech has provided “a new direction” for the HKSAR government and “mapped out a new chapter in the practice of ‘one country, two systems’,” providing an action guide for the city’s leadership.
The piece adds that development is the “golden key to solving various problems in Hong Kong. Only by strengthening the driving force of development and positioning itself correctly in the context of China's overall development can Hong Kong cultivate new strengths, play new roles and achieve new development. At present, the greatest popular desire in Hong Kong is that people wish for a better life, a more spacious house, more opportunities to start a business, better education for their children and better care for the elderly. Only by effectively addressing difficulties and addressing major economic and livelihood issues of public concern can the people's sense of gain and happiness be effectively enhanced. After all the ups and downs, everyone feels that Hong Kong cannot be chaotic and cannot afford chaos. They also feel that Hong Kong's development cannot be delayed any longer. We must eliminate all interference and concentrate on development. Only by jointly maintaining harmony and stability, uniting and working together can we build Hong Kong as a common home.” 发展是永恒的主题，是香港的立身之本，也是解决香港各种问题的金钥匙。只有不断增强发展动能，在国家发展大局中找准定位，香港才能培育新优势、发挥新作用、实现新发展。现在，香港最大的民心，就是盼望生活变得更好，盼望房子住得更宽敞一些、创业的机会更多一些、孩子的教育更好一些、年纪大了得到的照顾更好一些。只有切实排解民生忧难，着力解决市民关注的经济民生方面的突出问题，才能切实提高民众获得感和幸福感。经历了风风雨雨，大家痛感香港不能乱也乱不起，更深感香港发展不能再耽搁，要排除一切干扰聚精会神谋发展。只有共同维护和谐稳定，团结起来、和衷共济，才能把香港这个共同家园建设好.
Later the piece argues that Hong Kong today has “a more solid foundation than ever before. It is better able to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests and maintain long-term prosperity and stability.” It then talks about the importance of Hong Kong seizing “the historic opportunities presented by China’s development” and the importance of taking the aspirations/expectations of the whole society, particularly ordinary citizens, as the top priority for the SAR government.
It then reiterates this bit from Xi’s speech:
“It is my hope that all fellow compatriots in Hong Kong will carry on the mainstream values, which are characterized by the love of both the motherland and Hong Kong as the core and are in conformity with the principle of ‘one country, two systems,’ and that they will continue to follow the fine traditions of inclusiveness, seeking common ground while reserving differences, and keeping an unyielding spirit and the courage to strive for success with a view to creating a better future.”
Next, there’s a brief feature piece on Tibet’s border villages. This is a preview article leading to more feature articles on Page 6. It says that by the end of 2021, more than 620 small villages along the border had been built. The report informs that since 2018, across 21 border counties in Tibet, the Party has been implementing a policy themed “guardians of the sacred homeland and the builders of happy homes” 神圣国土守护者、幸福家园建设者. This has resulted in all first and second tier administrative villages along the border being connected with smooth roads, the main power grid being extended to all border townships, postal services and mobile communication networks being established in all villages, drinking water being guaranteed for the rural population, and public service facilities such as nearby schools and medical services being improved. Work on industrial projects and development of industries with local characteristics is also being carried out, the report adds. 从2018年开始，西藏在21个边境县实施以“神圣国土守护者、幸福家园建设者”为主题的乡村振兴工程，加大政策支持力度，加快推进边境地区建设，着力提高群众生活水平。迄今，边境一、二线行政村公路通达通畅，主电网延伸到全部边境乡（镇），实现村村通邮、移动通信网络全覆盖，农村人口饮水安全得到保障，就近入学、就医等公共服务设施日益完善. 实施边境地区产业项目，依托边境地区资源禀赋发展特色产业，越来越多的村民走上致富路.
Finally, there’s a feature report on the page about the development of state-owned conglomerate China Resources Group. The article’s starting point is a recent notice by the SASAC, announcing that five centrally administered SoEs had officially become State-owned capital investment companies. China Resources was in that list. Apart from supporting reasonable flow of state-owned capital into major industries and key areas, state-owned capital investment companies also aim to serve the national strategy, optimise state-owned capital distribution, enhance industrial competitiveness and upgrade industrial structure in areas related to national security and the economy.
Most of the article then basically praises the reform, growth and innovation focus of China Resources Group and its subsidiaries. It says that the company today is ranked 69 in the Fortune 500 list and 70th in the list of the World’s Top 500 Brands.
In 2021, China Resources Group achieved an operating income of 771.47 billion yuan, net profit of 60.09 billion yuan, and had total assets of 2,021.11 billion yuan, all hitting record highs. In the first quarter of 2022, China Resources Group achieved an operating income of 172.3 billion yuan and a total profit of 17.89 billion yuan; the group's total assets reached 2,095.1 billion yuan. 2021年，华润集团实现营业收入7714.7亿元，净利润600.9亿元，总资产20211.1亿元，均创历史新高。2022年一季度，华润集团实现营业收入1723亿元，利润总额178.9亿元，截至2022年一季度末，集团总资产达20951亿元...
Page 3: First, a report on Yang Jiechi’s visit to Zimbabwe (English report), where he met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa. After talking about the importance of the heads of state leading the relationship and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of inter-party relations between the CPC and ZANU PF, Yang added:
“China appreciates Zimbabwe's important role in promoting China-Africa cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative and stands ready to further strengthen all-dimensional exchanges with Zimbabwe, be it party to party, government to government, military to military and people to people levels, and conduct in-depth exchanges of governance experience with Zimbabwe…China is ready to provide more support for Zimbabwe's economic and social development.’ Yang said instability, uncertainty and insecurity are prominent in the current international situation. China recently held the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development in the form of BRICS Plus, sending a positive signal for emerging markets and developing countries in promoting global development and solidarity and cooperation. China is ready to fully coordinate its position with Zimbabwe on multilateral affairs, jointly uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, and make the global governance system more just and equitable.”
Mnangagwa said the friendship between Zimbabwe and China has become stronger with the passing of time. Zimbabwe always bears in mind China's firm support for its efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and oppose foreign interference and sanctions and remains grateful for China's sincere assistance to Zimbabwe's economic and social development over the years. Zimbabwe firmly upholds the one-China principle and supports the China-proposed Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative.
Prior to visiting Zimbabwe, Yang was in the UAE. There, Yang “reiterated that China firmly supports the UAE in safeguarding its national sovereignty and security, while resolutely opposing any interference in the Gulf country's internal affairs. China highly appreciates the UAE’s support for the China-proposed Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, and is willing to deepen cooperation with the UAE under the two major initiatives, aiming to make positive contributions to lasting world peace and long-term development, Yang said. He expressed the hope that the two sides will enhance coordination under China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the UAE's Designing the Next 50 development plan, overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to expand collaboration in civil aviation, energy, finance, investment, infrastructure and other traditional sectors while creating more cooperation highlights in new fields.
Next, there’s a report (English report) on Wang Yi’s latest comments on the situation in Myanmar, during his visit to Cambodia. Meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, Wang “appreciated Cambodia's active mediation on the Myanmar issue since it took over the rotating presidency of ASEAN” and “expounded on China’s position:
Firstly, the Chinese side expects joint efforts by China and ASEAN to push Myanmar in pursuit of political reconciliation within the framework of the constitution and laws, encourages all political parties in the country to prioritize the big picture and the interests of the people to take rational and pragmatic efforts to stabilize the situation and realize peace at an early date.
Secondly, China hopes to work together with ASEAN to push Myanmar in restarting the democratic transition process and exploring a path of political development with Myanmar’s own characteristics that also suits its national conditions.
Thirdly, China expects ASEAN to stick to ‘the ASEAN way’, uphold the basic principles and traditions of non-interference in others' internal affairs and coordination, stay focused and remove distractions, engage in patient coordination, constructively implement the five-point consensus reached by ASEAN leaders, and safeguard ASEAN's overall unity and its leading role.
On the discussion on bilateral ties between China and Cambodia and the role of ASEAN, Xinhua reports: “Sokhonn said Cambodia speaks highly of the China-proposed Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI), believing they will make significant contribution to global peace and development. Sokhonn described the bilateral comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership as strong, and said Cambodia will continue to firmly adhere to the one-China policy, and support China's stance on issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang.”
In addition, the report states that “Wang said China fully supports the important role of Cambodia as the 2022 ASEAN Chair and is ready to work with ASEAN to adhere to the following ‘three upholdings’:
Upholding ASEAN centrality to preserve strategic independence, maintain multilateralism and take hold of the leading power over regional security.
Upholding the orientation of win-win cooperation to fully implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and launch the building of Version 3.0 China-ASEAN Free Trade Area at an early date, so as to add more certainty and positive energy to regional peace, stability and development.
Upholding the principle of properly handling sensitive issues to maintain the key note of mutually beneficial cooperation, oppose initiating antagonism of camps and division in this region, and resist any attempt to turn the East Asia cooperation platform into a ‘wrestling ground’ for major-country rivals.
Sokhonn said Cambodia opposes any external forces compelling regional countries to take sides and pushing for zero-sum mentality and geopolitical rivalry.”
Wang met with other leaders from Southeast Asia too. For instance, he met with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin on the sidelines of the seventh Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Cambodia. Myanmar’s Forieign Minister told Wang that his country cherishes the Myanmar-China ‘Paukphaw’ friendship (with China), which features mutual respect and equal treatment.
“China will work together with the Myanmar side to further consolidate the four pillars of mutual political trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, people to people bonds, and personnel and cultural exchanges, so as to push for the building of the China-Myanmar community with a shared future to a new high, Wang said. China supports the Myanmar people in exploring the development path that suits Myanmar's own national conditions, and supports Myanmar in safeguarding its legitimate interests and national dignity in the international arena, he added. Both sides agreed to speed up the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), implement well the cross-border power grids agreement, guarantee the operation of China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines, explore the "CMEC plus" cooperation at a proper time, and elevate the level of bilateral trade and commercial cooperation. China is ready to import more quality agricultural products from Myanmar, expand bilateral financial cooperation, and launch poverty reduction demonstration projects in Myanmar, Wang said…Wang said that as Myanmar's largest neighboring country, China expects Myanmar to achieve political and social stability, improvement of people's livelihood and national development and revitalization. China also hopes Myanmar could realize political reconciliation and lasting peace and stability through consultations within the constitutional and legal framework, he added.”
The report also has Wang saying that “it is necessary to synergize the LMC with the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI) proposed by China. U Wunna Maung Lwin said the GDI and the GSI will play a significant role in safeguarding world peace, upholding multilateralism and promoting common development. Myanmar spoke highly of the initiatives and is willing to actively participate in them.”
Finally, Wang also met with Lao Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith. Xinhua reports:
“Saleumxay said currently the Laos-China relationship enjoys strong momentum, with the construction of the Laos-China Railway completed on time, and its successful running has fully demonstrated the great value and achievement of the Belt and Road Initiative, helping Laos to transform from a land-locked country to a land-linked one and bringing real benefits to the Lao people. Laos holds high expectations for the future of the Laos-China community with a shared future, and hopes to make strategic alignment of development plans with the Chinese side and speed up the implementation of a series of bilateral cooperative agreements, he noted. The two sides agreed to give full play to the radiation effect of the China-Laos Railway, explore connection among the logistics chain, value chain and production chain along the railway, achieve high quality connectivity and push for third-party market cooperation. The two sides agreed to work together to resist cold war mentality and zero-sum game, oppose double standards wantonly pursued by some countries, and reject interference in and sabotage of exchanges and cooperation among countries.”
Moving on, there’s an article by Gu Xueming, President of the Institute of international trade and economic cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce, on the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference. Gu basically says that the outcomes of the 12th ministerial had sent a positive signal of jointly safeguarding the multilateral trading system. But at present, the three pillars of the WTO, namely the dispute settlement mechanism, the multilateral trade negotiation mechanism and the trade policy review mechanism, are all facing challenges. In particular, the suspension of the appellate body of the dispute settlement mechanism has damaged the authority and effectiveness of the WTO.
He adds that the achievement of every outcome of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference is inseparable from China’s active participation and support. Looking to the future, China will, as always, support all the work of the WTO, actively participate in discussions on various issues, participate in leading open plurilateral negotiations, promote the early resumption of the operation of the appellate body, and support the necessary reform of the WTO to respond to members' concerns and the needs of the times. China practices true multilateralism, and is willing to make positive contributions to the development and improvement of the multilateral trading system with the WTO as its core, and push economic globalisation towards a more open, inclusive, shared, balanced and win-win direction. 中国是多边贸易体制的积极参与者、坚定维护者和重要贡献者。世贸组织第十二届部长级会议每一项成果的达成，都离不开中国的积极参与和支持。面向未来，中国将一如既往支持世贸组织各项工作，积极参与各项议题讨论，参与引领开放式诸边谈判，推动早日恢复上诉机构运行，支持世贸组织进行必要改革以回应成员关切和时代需要。中国践行真正的多边主义，愿为以世贸组织为核心的多边贸易体制的发展和完善作出积极贡献，推动经济全球化朝着更加开放、包容、普惠、平衡、共赢的方向发展.
Finally, there’s a report with comments from Argentina’s ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja. He praises the BRICS and the BRICS+ model of cooperation. For instance, he talks about the establishment of the NDB and says that “many developing countries have a large funding gap in the field of infrastructure construction, and the support of BRICS New Development Bank has provided a strong guarantee for the economic development of relevant countries.” He talks positively about the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center, and then says that faced with the current global economic challenges, it is important to deepen South-South cooperation. In this regard the BRICS+ cooperation mechanism will build consensus on maintaining the multilateral trading system and opposing protectionism, accelerating commodity flows and technology transfers, and achieving sustainable development. The report says that Sabino Vaca Narvaja believes that solving global problems requires open cooperation, not the Cold War mentality. China's GDI “is closely related to human development, and its core concept is people-centred.”
Page 4: There’s a report on the work being done to enhance the theoretical arming of cadres in Henan. This includes focusing on studying and learning Party history, doing things for/with the masses, dispute resolution activities, and supporting food security.
For instance, in terms of a campaign to promote the “advanced deeds of revolutionary heroes, development role models and pioneers of the times,” the report says that since the beginning of this year, the province has held 18 online and offline activities, produced more than 210 micro-videos, and provided live webcasts covering more than 2 million people. In terms of examples of doing practical things for the people, the piece talks about news media activities through initiatives such as setting up platforms for providing help and suggestions on epidemic prevention and control or an initiative to connect people to their leaders (我想@领导) so that their issues can be heard and addressed. As of now, the media has received 92,000 pieces of effective information from the public, with more than 79,000 such pieces of information being forwarded for settlement. Another example is the provision of vocational training through select centres and the building of 82 comprehensive community service centres and 8 self-help government service stations in Hebi City at a cost of 6.63 billion yuan.
Next, there’s a story about preparedness for Typhoon Chaba, which has already hit south China, including Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Page 9: The entire page is dedicated to articles on the national-level project to trace the origins of Chinese civilisation. This is an old project that dates back to 2002. But if you recall, this was discussed at the 39th study session of the Politburo in May. During the meeting, Xinhua English reported:
Xi “called for a better understanding of the 5,000-plus-year history of the Chinese civilization to strengthen historical awareness and cultural confidence of the Party and society in the joint pursuit of national rejuvenation. Xi said the research program on the origin of the Chinese civilization has made marked achievements, but it should be moved forward as there are still many historical mysteries to be unraveled and many issues waiting for settlement with consensus built based on solid evidence and study. It is a complicated, time-consuming, and systematic task to explore the origin and formation of civilization, noted Xi, urging efforts to combine archaeological excavation and literature research with tools and methods of natural sciences. Xi called for greater efforts in studying unearthed artifacts and cultural relics and promoting related knowledge to enhance the power of the Chinese civilization to influence and inspire.”
It added: “Stressing that fine traditional Chinese culture is the root and soul of the Chinese nation, Xi said efforts should be made to adapt it to the context of a socialist society and to develop advanced socialist culture. The Chinese civilization has been known for its openness and inclusiveness since ancient times, Xi said, urging efforts to promote the view of civilization that champions equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and mutual accommodation. Misunderstandings between civilizations can be overcome through enhanced exchanges, clashes avoided by strengthening mutual learning, and civilization superiority replaced by the co-existence of various civilizations, Xi said. Xi also called for respect for people in different countries exploring their own development paths. He stressed telling the stories of the Chinese civilization well to present China as a trustworthy, loveable and admirable country, and the charm of the long-standing and rich Chinese civilization.”
The lead article on the page is by Director of the history department at CASS, Wang Wei, who also spoke at the Politburo study session. He talks about the different phases of the project:
Preliminary phase of study (2001-03): This phase outlined a set of technical routes and implementation plans for multi-disciplinary research on the origin and early development of Chinese civilisation.
First stage (2004-05): This focussed on the period of 2500 BC-1500 BC studying the pattern of civilisation in the Central Plains.
Second stage (2006-2008): This expanded the period of study to 3500 BC-1500 BC and the spatial scope was extended from the middle reaches of the Yellow River to the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Liao River Basin. The domains of study during this phase were environmental changes, economic and technological development and social structure changes of metropolitan and regional central sites and their archaeological cultures in various regions during this period.
Third stage (2009-2012): This phase covered the same time period and space, but the research topics included the improvement of the archaeological and cultural chronology, enhanced chronological study of major events in the process of the development of civilisation, the study of the relationship between environmental changes and the evolution of civilisation and the development of technologies and industries in various regions. In addition, this phase focussed on studying the relationship between important resources such as copper, jade, and salt and the formation of civilisation, the social structure reflected by urban settlements and regional central settlements, the development of spiritual culture in the process of civilisation formation, and a holistic study of formation and early development of Chinese civilisation.
Fourth stage (2013-2018): This entailed a continuation of earlier work and the finalisation of a report.
Fifth stage (2018-2024): Apart from continuing the earlier work, this stage has incorporated important sites newly discovered in recent years dating from 5,500 to 3,500 years ago, and it has focussed on strengthening the theoretical interpretation.
Wang is also categorical that the purpose of this entire project is to “enhance historical and cultural self-confidence, and promote the realisation of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” In other words, this is not simply an archeological, scientific or academic exercise, this is a political project with a political goal in mind.
Draft of my article in TOI today
Last week’s BRICS summit was bookended by some excitement over the possibility of the group expanding by accepting new members and reports that Argentina and Iran had applied for membership. What this obscures, however, is the fact that amid the evolving geopolitical situation, the BRICS mechanism appears to be undergoing an identity crisis. There is a deepening contradiction at the heart of the grouping, which is likely to result in extremely difficult choices for Indian foreign policy.
Historically, economic cooperation and somewhat shared perspectives among emerging markets on matters related to global governance reform provided the raison d'etre for BRICS cooperation. For instance, the first BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting took place at the sidelines of the 2006 UNGA debate. Three years later, the first BRIC summit in Yekaterinburg largely focussed on the fallout of the global financial crisis, the reform of the global financial order, and spoke about climate change, technological cooperation and building a “more democratic and just multipolar world order.” In this sense, the group’s agenda was not just economic but also political. The addition of South Africa, the only African economy in the G20, to the BRIC in 2010 further underscored this.
Over time, officially, BRICS cooperation has expanded to be premised on the three pillars: political and security, economic and financial and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In practice, it is the economy and finance pillar, however, that has done the heavy lifting. This is most evident in the establishment of the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. In contrast, the political and security pillar has largely under-delivered. Of course, there have been annual meetings of BRICS foreign ministers and security advisors since 2009. But those have generally been about reaffirming shared perspectives on global governance issues and coordinating positions on shared concerns as opposed to necessarily operationalizing new, broad-based initiatives. One could point to the BRICS working groups on drugs, counter-terrorism and ICT security to argue that progress has been made. But this would be missing the woods for the trees.
Let me illustrate this with a recent example. On June 16, China put a “technical hold” on an Indo-US proposal to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Abdul Rehman Makki as a “global terrorist” on the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council. A day earlier, the annual BRICS security advisors meeting, chaired by China’s Yang Jiechi, had “agreed to jointly promote plans and roadmaps for international counter-terrorism and cyber security cooperation, and uphold the central coordinating role of the United Nations in the global counter-terrorism cause.” In essence, there is a chasm between the rhetoric and reality of such security cooperation.
Given this, what makes the current moment dangerous for the future of the BRICS is that Beijing and Moscow appear to be keen to readjust this dynamic between the economy and security pillars. Each of the key points in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the summit underscored this. He painted a grim picture of the world, “overshadowed by the dark clouds of Cold War mentality and power politics,” expanding military alliances and intensifying bloc-based confrontation. He called on BRICS countries to “support each other on issues concerning core interests” and “reject hegemony, bullying and division.” Most importantly, he said that China would like to work with BRICS partners to operationalize the Global Security Initiative (GSI). This is an initiative that Xi outlined in April, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While there’s still no real meat of the bones, the six principles that GSI espouses and comments by Chinese officials clearly indicate that it is framed in opposition to what China believes is an increasingly coordinated effort at containment by the West, led by the United States. After the events of the last few months, it is little surprise that this effort has Moscow’s support. For instance, Russian President Vladimir spoke about BRICS counting on the support of countries “seeking to pursue an independent policy.” This sits well with Beijing’s intensified outreach to the developing world. Echoing Putin, Xi said that BRICS was not a “closed club or an exclusive circle, but a big family,” as he called for allowing “like-minded partners to become part of the BRICS family at an early date.”
In contrast to those two, the comments by the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa suggested that the three countries largely continue to view BRICS from the prism of development as opposed to security. In the long run, however, India faces the possibility of isolation in this regard. This situation could be exacerbated with the addition of new members. For the moment, the Beijing Declaration has sort of delayed the issue, by requiring BRICS Sherpas to “clarify the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures” for the expansion process “on the basis of full consultation and consensus.” But this might not be a sustainable approach. As a leading developing country, India cannot appear to be unsupportive of the aspirations of developing countries. At the same time, an expanded BRICS with an evidently anti-Western agenda, as envisioned by Xi and Putin, would likely dilute India’s influence and make its multi-alignment strategy even more untenable.