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N Korea pulls 'Pak' for China

N Korea pulls Pak for China

Just before Chinese President Xi Jinping was supposed to bask in the power of global prestige at the carefully choreographed BRICS summit in Xiamen, North Korea detonated its sixth bomb. It not only shook dwellings in China and revived fears of nuclear pollution in its northeast region, rather with the exquisite timing of the detonation – the Kim Jong-un government had created maximum discomfiture to China. Kim's latest provocation, however, some believe, was deliberately timed to upstage the start of the annual BRICS summit in China. This exposes not only the scale of the North Korean challenge now facing China's president but also his dearth of options. Incidentally, it was not the first time that North Korea had chosen a confrontational event to flaunt its weapons. In May, the Kim government launched a ballistic missile, hours before the Chinese President was addressing the world leaders in Beijing about China's signature trillion-dollar 'One Road, One Belt' project. And, when this ongoing BRICS Summit could be a crucial moment for India and China seeking to reconcile post-Doklam detente, the confluence of North Korea's nuclear testing appears to be intentional as a means to show that a small and rogue neighbouring state can diminish China's power and prestige as Kim knows that Xi has the real power to affect the calculus in Washington. Everyone knows that North Korea wants talks with Washington, to reduce American troops in South Korea and leave them with their nuclear weapons. And in Kim's calculation, China has the influence to make that negotiation happen. As far as the BRICS summit is concerned, China – contemplating to create a Sino-centric global empire – will have no problem in getting Russia and South Africa on its side for a pompous Belt and Road Initiative.

While it has recently signed a big deal of 11 billion USD, China is the single largest investor in Brazil with 37.5 per cent share in the country's total investment. In such conditions, India would not be in a position to take Brazil's support or its silence for granted. As China aims to use BRICS to display its strength, India may be cordoned again if it seeks to deliver a strong message against Pakistan's role as the 'source of terrorism.' Beijing has recently warned India that despite taking cognizance of New Delhi's concern on the counter-terrorism issues of Pakistan, it must not be featured prominently at the Xiamen Summit. In his speech on Sunday, Xi, instead of mentioning border issues, advocated for the need of mutual respect among BRICS members to avoid conflicts. What foxes India the most is its old friend Russia's silence on these issues. Recently, in an article published in an India English daily, Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the issues of discussion during the BRICS Summit, but he preferred to keep calm on Pakistan. Surprisingly, he spoke about Syria and Korea comprehensively, but he had no words to say about India's prolonged fight on cross-border terrorism. And in that case, the Doklam detente seems to be making China's wounds fresh again. Pundits of international relations have the opinion that with BRICS – mainly revolving around Sino-Pakistan-Russian axis, India will gasp to breathe in this almost exclusively Chinese ambit. Surprisingly, Xi and Putin held a bilateral meeting late Sunday and discussed the North Korea blast. Though both the leaders vowed to deal the issue, China fears such an outcome if it uses its greatest economic leverage: cutting off the crude oil supplies that keep the North's rudimentary economy running. Cutting off oil supplies could severely impact North Korean industries and undermine the regime's stability, a solution which China and Russian have yet not been able to chalk out. Nonetheless, while China – disturbed with one of its neighbours must find a way to keep India – suffering the same problem – within the BRICS fold, to maintain the peace in the Asian corridor, India must also lend confidence to the coalition. One cannot deny that both the nations have immense potential and they can bring out substantial development in Asia. Otherwise, both the countries must be ready to face the consequences of locking horns. China must keep in mind that some conflicts have started with it: America already considers the North Korean regime to be China's puppet, and that North Korean misdeeds are really Chinese misdeeds. And, that may come at a price to Beijing: either to rein in the North Korean regime or, eventually, get rid of it. Or, remain to make it an issue at various international forums, like India does.

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