BRICS Adds New Members, World Moving Towards China

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BRICS Summit in Johannesburg
President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of China Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a BRICS family photo during the 2023 BRICS Summit

The BRICS countries, which include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, met in South Africa for their annual summit. A major decision was whether to include more nations that align with China’s perspective or remain closer to the Western viewpoint. By the end of the summit, they chose to include six new countries, notably Iran, which has strong anti-Western sentiments.

This move seems to highlight China’s influence in the group, suggesting they might stand more against the United States views. Despite reservations from countries like India and Brazil, which have closer ties with the West, the inclusion of Iran could raise geopolitical concerns. Other new members are Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.

BRICS Expansion
This expansion brings financial strength and supports China’s global agenda. While China wanted Indonesia to join, that didn’t happen. One topic the summit didn’t progress much on was creating a currency to rival the U.S. dollar. Instead, they promoted trade in local currencies.

The BRICS grouping, which started as an economic collaboration, is now seen more as a geopolitical player, especially with the tensions between China and the U.S. and Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Despite their collective identity, BRICS nations are diverse, with different political systems and goals. This might make coordination challenging.

Some officials argue that these differences aren’t barriers but opportunities to be more inclusive. BRICS, initially an economic term, now stands against Western-led entities like the Group of 7 and the World Bank. Its expansion and popularity among smaller nations highlight some of the failures of the Western world to be inclusive.

Even though there’s a show of unity, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have different opinions about their growth. For example, China sees BRICS as a way to challenge the U.S., while some leaders are cautious about creating divisions similar to the Cold War era. Some new BRICS members, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, maintain delicate relationships with both the West and the East, showcasing their diplomatic balancing acts.

BRICS Expansion Reflects Growing Chinese Influence
The BRICS association, originally consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, met for their yearly summit in South Africa. Facing a pivotal decision, the group debated between broadening its membership with nations that resonate more with China’s stance or maintaining a balance closer to Western ideologies. By the conclusion of the meeting, six countries were welcomed into the fold.

Among them, Iran stood out due to its strong anti-Western tendencies. The inclusion of Iran is seen as a win for Beijing’s influence within BRICS, hinting at a possible lean against the U.S. Despite concerns raised by India and Brazil, both of whom have friendly relations with the West, Iran’s induction might escalate geopolitical tensions.

Saudia Arabia BRICS

The new members also include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. These additions are not just symbolic; they bring significant financial and strategic strength to BRICS. It also reflects China’s pursuit of showcasing its global strength, despite its controversial ties with nations such as Russia.

The Inclusion Of Saudi Arabia In BRICS will have far-reaching consequences for the world order.

Notably missing from the expansion was Indonesia, a nation China was keen to include. The reasons behind this omission weren’t detailed at the summit. Interestingly, while a key discussion topic was the introduction of a BRICS currency to challenge the U.S. dollar, it didn’t gain traction. The focus shifted towards promoting trade using local currencies among member nations.

Originally envisioned as an economic cooperative, BRICS’ evolving role now seems rooted in geopolitics, especially given the intense rivalry between China and the U.S., and Russia’s controversial role in Ukraine. Despite this unified front, the group’s diverse political landscapes might pose challenges.

The addition of the new members means BRICS now encompasses democracies, authoritarian regimes, monarchies, and a theocracy. This diversity might make decision-making and alignment more complex. BRICS was conceived as a counterbalance to Western-led entities like the Group of 7, IMF, and the World Bank.

Its expansion and increasing appeal, especially among smaller nations, highlight some perceived shortcomings of Western diplomacy in being more inclusive. The different opinions within BRICS about its trajectory were evident. While China perceives BRICS as a strategic platform to challenge the U.S., other members are cautious about fostering global divisions reminiscent of the Cold War era.

Several of the newer members, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have mastered the art of diplomacy by balancing relationships between the East and the West. Their induction into BRICS is a testament to their geopolitical significance.

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