Brics Summit in midst of turmoil
The ninth annual Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit will be held in Xiamen, China, between 3-5 September and it's one that international affairs experts are watching closely with signs of tension between China and India.
Previous summits saw the grouping discuss its Brics Bank and new developments in global trade. This time around the main countries of China and India will be meeting face-to-face after months of tension around a tiny area in the Himalayas. The kingdom of Bhutan and China are both claiming a plateau area known as Doklam in the western Himalayas. The tension ratcheted up in June 2017 when Chinese troops tried to build a road in territory claimed by Bhutan.
India responded by ordering its own road construction teams in to build a military road and blocked Chinese soldiers. The two sides reportedly came close to opening fire on each other.
In a statement issued on Monday, August 28, on the eve of the summit, India said it had decided to withdraw troops for now.
The Indian ministry of external affairs said that "expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is ongoing".
Beijing issued a short statement afterwards saying: "The Indian side withdrew all persons and equipment that had crossed the border back to the Indian side – the Chinese personnel on site have confirmed this."
The Brics Summit also comes at a time that Russia is holding its massive war games called “Zapad2017” or “West2017” on its western borders and into neighbouring Belarus. The Baltic states are watching closely, along with Nato officials. Russia has been affected by sanctions imposed by the US for alleged interference in American elections which Moscow denies. But it's also struggling economically as the oil and gas price languishes
South African leader Jacob Zuma is also under political pressure at home with allegations that his relationship with an Indian family called the Guptas has led to billions of rands being illegally moved out of the country.
The money laundering allegations also include calls from his own party leadership for the president to face an inquiry into how his decisions on state-owned enterprises leadership positions could have been affected by Gupta family influence. With billions on the line and the state-owned enterprises in financial straits, the president is regarded as being in a weak position as he comes to the end of his term as leader of both the party and the country.
He's trying to ensure that his ex-wife, with whom he had four children, becomes the next president. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said she would like the job, but her previous position as AU chair means she has no formal position in South Africa presently and ruling party opponents are already lining up against her.
Brazil has spent the last three years gripped by scandals starting with a state-owned oil company Petrobras and has led to more than 80 politicians and businessmen and women arrested.
Operation Car Wash began in 2014 as a probe into allegations that Brazil's biggest construction firms overcharged state-oil company Petrobras for building contracts. The country’s ruling Worker’s Party has been accused of syphoning off billions of dollars over the years and among those accused of corruption are former president, Luiz da Silva or "Lula" as he’s known. He was found guilty of the first charge against him of accepting a beachfront apartment from the engineering firm OAS in return for his help in winning contracts with Petrobras.
The country’s crisis didn’t end there, the attorney-general charged current President Michel Temer of receiving money from the giant meatpacking firm JBS, while he’d taken over the reins from his predecessor Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached for failing to take action against corruption.