Chess: In chess a gambit is part of the openingsgame, means that you offer a piece for a more strategic point.
The BRICS is an acronym that was first introduced by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in 2001. After this it has been further developed by Goldman Sachs in its scientific paper; “Global economics paper No. 99” [1. Jim O’Neill – Growth Map, 2011, Penguin Putnam Inc, London]. The acronym originally represented four countries; Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). In 2013, South Africa joined after invitation of Russia and full support of India (rectification by Deon Seals – Counsellor South Africa Embassy [1. March 12, 2014 Seminar held at Stenden Rangsit University]), completing the acronym into BRICS.
The BRICS represent an alliance of national emerging economies, shortly an “economic alliance”. The group has significant influence on international affairs, since all five members are part of the G20 and with Russia and China they have two permanent members in the UN Security Council. Besides this, the countries have together more than three billion inhabitants, have a combined land coverage of over 25%, and they hold a combined GDP of 20 trillion dollars [2. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG]. The BRICS are expected to overtake the combined economies of the G7 around 2027 [1. Jim O’Neill – Growth Map, 2011, Penguin Putnam Inc, London].
Even though the BRICS represent a strong economic alliance, the countries have to overcome some serious geopolitical and military conflicts in order to stay close as an alliance or fall apart. Three of the members; “China, India and Russia” are located in the same area. This causes extra challenges for the alliance to take away the pressure and gain some space to keep the economics going. To make the sketch a bit more specific, especially China and India have importance by the pact as projected economic superpowers, whilst Russia is more in favor of Realpolitik which includes “Capitalism, Corruption, Energy politics, Military Drills and truckloads of fighting teams without any license plates. [3. http://www.nrc.nl/opklaringen/2014/03/22/principeloos-in-harde-wereld-van-realpolitik/]”
The Gambit – Crimea
Svereal stories on the Ukrainian crisis and the Crimea crisis are going around, for example that a new cold war might be coming our way quickly. After the annexation by Russia of Crimea, the European Union and the United States of America were the first to condemn Russia. It is however interesting to see how the economic partners have responded towards the whole crisis. [6. http://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2014/maart/08/een-week-van-spanning-rond-de-krim-1355862]
China has been seen for a long time as one of the most important partners of Russia. The country is well known with annexing places by itself for example The Senkaku Islands but also the Spratly Islands. The annexation of the Spratly Island and the complete South Chinese Sea was for Philippine President Beningo Aquino enough to lay the comparison with the annexation of Sudetenland in 1938 by the Nazi’s [7. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-26048500]. It is interesting to see that China’s goals for 2014 drafted by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang included the following sentence; “Managing territorial disputes” [8. http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/chinas-goals-for-2014/], just days after it condemned the annexation of Crimea by Russia. The country stated in the question around Crimea that Russia should not intervene in Ukraine’s internal affairs and that it should accept the sovereignty of the country. The country gives with this a statement that it rather chooses for its own safety and showing that the country is open for a partnership with the G7 or EU and USA.
India on the other hand, which has been proven to be an adequate ally of especially Great Britain but also of the EU and the USA, has openly approved the annexation of the Russians at Crimea. Even though India has good connections with Moscow, 70 percent of their arms comes from Russia, they have a lot of shares in big oil companies and it is only one of the two countries that has annual ministerial-level defense reviews with India. The change in foreign policy by India is weird to see, especially since its ties between the USA and India have become warmer, since the Obama administration has come into place [9. http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/indian-foreign-policy-the-cold-war-lingers/].
China vs. India
The tension between the three countries has even deeper roots when we look at China and India, as already mentioned upcoming economic superpowers. Especially due to the economic growth, the tensions between the countries has risen significantly. China is surrounded on a geographical basis with Russia in the North and India in the Southwest. The only things that divide China from its neighbors are the highest mountain chain in the world, the Himalayas (India) and the coldest area on the world Siberia (Russia). Besides this, there are also contested areas between China and India that claim both to be the owner of the territory; Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir.
Since the countries both have gained a lot of prosperity, the tensions along the borders are rising. In my previous article I have written about the interest of China into the Kra Canal, however India, which has been known to be a maritime country for years, is not in favor of this idea due to the fact that it threatens its military strategic points; “the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. [11. Robert D. Kaplan – Monsoon. The Indian Ocean and the future of America, 2011, Random House, Inc, New York, P.341]
However, the routes on sea aren’t the only threat for India, since China’s movement along the border with India is growing rapidly. The economic growth of China has given the region of Tibet an infrastructural boost. In total, 39 new transportation routes have been opened by the Chinese government, which mostly consists of railroads, roads. However, also three new airports have arisen in Tibet over the last years. India’s military is aware of the building drift along its borders and keeps a clear eye on the Chinese “economic” expansions. It will be interesting to see if the economic pact especially between these three countries manage to create synergy. In order to become successful they gonna need it but the question is will they let each other?
With the annexation of Crimea by Russia, both India and China are showing different faces towards the world China is afraid that it will happen in the near future close to or even within its own borders. India has openly shown support for Russia, which should be seen by the Western countries as a wake up sign. Xi Jinping, who was last week in the Netherlands and sat down at the NSS [12. http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/03/22/chinese-president-in-nederland-aangekomen-voor-staatsbezoek/], seems to be willing to make some concessions towards the Western country if it can assure the country stability. India on the other hand might be a slowly closing book. For this reason it will be interesting to see who will win the upcoming elections in the country. The remaining question will stay for now; “Will China and India change their roles in international affairs and change the partnership?” Only the future will tell us. In my next article I will write about the American geostrategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, who’s literature is becoming increasingly popular among Asian students, but why?
Rectification part 1
Dear reader as an ending I would like to make my apologies. Because in my last two blogs The Openingsgame & Balance on the Board I have tried to create a correct outline to make you understand the basic principles of where I actually would like to go; “International relations.” My purpose was to create a clear basis even though this might be discovered as normal knowledge for some for others it isn’t. In the past years it has been my weakness to elaborate into discussion with other parties not knowing the literature I am talking about. So I have tried to create this basic fundamental in order to let you understand the complex situations I want to elaborate about and to provide a background to react on what I am writing. So first of all that’s about my purpose.
Rectification part 2
Another thing is that I have been talking a lot about Robert D. Kaplan but as I just said it’s one of my pitfalls not to explain the background of something when it looks obvious to me. So some background on Robert D. Kaplan before I continue; “Robert D. Kaplan is a geopolitical analyst working for Stratfor which is a global private intelligence firm, he is author of fifteen books on foreign affairs and travelling and he worked as a correspondent for the Atlantic over fifiteen years.” He is one of the persons whom’s books I have read before I started with the International Protocol and Diplomatics study, and one of the persons that can really make situations clear. However a small note should be taken into account, he describes it from american perception, I will however try to see it from the Asian perspective, taking his knowledge into account. [1. http://www.robertdkaplan.com/]