China aims to transform the BRICS bloc into a prominent rival of the G7, according to the Financial Times. The publication reported on Sunday that Beijing plans to advocate for the expansion of BRICS during the upcoming summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, there appears to be disagreement between China and India regarding the nature of BRICS’ membership expansion.
The primary issue revolves around whether BRICS should remain a non-aligned economic club or transform into a political force openly challenging the West. South African officials revealed that 23 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS, some of which may receive invitations to the summit. Among the favorites for membership are Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, with Argentina being the first potential new member since hosting the summit in 2010.
China views expanding BRICS as a means to enhance the countries’ collective voice in the world. An anonymous Chinese official told the FT, “If we expand BRICS to account for a similar portion of world GDP as the G7, then our collective voice in the world will grow stronger.”
Earlier this month, India refuted media reports suggesting its opposition to BRICS’ expansion, dismissing them as baseless speculation. The Indian Foreign Ministry clarified that BRICS members are engaged in internal discussions about the guiding principles, standards, criteria, and procedures for expansion, emphasizing the need for full consultation and consensus.
Brazil, another key member, voiced support for the expansion of BRICS but stressed the importance of defining criteria for the entrance of new members. A senior Brazilian diplomat explained that while they supported expansion, it was necessary to establish clear guidelines for the process.
Contrary to claims that BRICS is an anti-West group seeking to compete with the G7, South Africa’s ambassador to BRICS, Anil Sooklal, asserted that the bloc’s objective is to advance the agenda of the Global South. Sooklal emphasized the aim of building a more inclusive and representative global architecture.
Russia also expressed its endorsement of expanding BRICS during early August. The Kremlin Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, stated that this expansion, in some form, would contribute to the further development and strengthening of the organization. The specifics of the expansion, including format and size, will be discussed by BRICS leaders during the Johannesburg summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to participate via video link.
Ultimately, the expansion of BRICS has become a key topic of discussion within the bloc. China aims to increase BRICS’ influence globally, while India and Brazil acknowledge the importance of clear criteria and consultation, ensuring a thoughtful approach to expansion. The Johannesburg summit will provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss and finalize the details of this expansion, potentially paving the way for new members to join the bloc.