Last week, I highlighted the "bad news" that came out of Brasilia with regards to Washington's Iran policy. There was, however, a silver lining that should not be ignored.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva hosted two meetings that week -- that of the Brazil-Russia-India-China group (BRIC) and another for the India-Brazil-South Africa forum (IBSA). What is interesting to note is that China's interest in playing a greater role in IBSA -- with some even talking about expanding that group to become CHIBSA -- was politely rebuffed. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed that IBSA is not simply a forum for three major rising powers, but also for states which share open political and economic systems. In other words, IBSA views itself as an embryonic "League of (Southern) Democracies," and wants to maintain that separate identity. This is even more surprising in light of the fact that China and the IBSA countries formed the "BASIC" bloc at Copenhagen, presenting a united front on climate change issues.
Brazil and India both have real concerns about China's policy of maintaining an artificially low value for the yuan, concerns that they share with the developed nations of the West. And despite the fact that India and China share the goal of reshaping global institutions to give more voice to the Eastern powers, the two neighbors still remain rivals in a number of areas -- including, as David Axe's WPR column noted this week, competition for water and energy resources.