China intends to advocate for the transformation of the BRICS alliance into a robust competitor against the G7 during its imminent summit in South Africa, as reported by the Financial Times on Sunday.
Unnamed sources claim that there has been purported friction between Beijing and India concerning the expansion of the group’s membership in anticipation of the event, scheduled to occur in Johannesburg from August 22 to 24.
The publication highlighted that there exists a lack of consensus between Beijing and New Delhi regarding whether BRICS, currently consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, should remain a non-aligned economic consortium or evolve into a political entity that overtly challenges Western powers.
Reportedly, South African officials disclosed that 23 countries have expressed their interest in joining BRICS, and some of them might receive invitations to the Johannesburg summit. Among the favorites to become the bloc’s initial new members are Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, in line with the precedent set by the inclusion of the summit’s host country in 2010.
An unidentified Chinese official told the FT,
“If we expand BRICS to represent a proportionate share of global GDP comparable to the G7, our collective influence on the world stage will amplify.”
Earlier this month, New Delhi refuted media accounts suggesting opposition to the bloc’s expansion. Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Ministry, dismissed these reports as “unfounded speculation,” noting that discussions were ongoing among BRICS members to establish principles, standards, criteria, and procedures for expansion, as outlined by the leaders last year.
A senior Brazilian diplomat also indicated support for BRICS expansion while emphasizing the need for clearly defined criteria for new member admission.
South Africa’s ambassador to BRICS, Anil Sooklal, dismissed assertions that the bloc is adversarial toward the West and seeks competition with the G7. He clarified that their aim is to advance the agenda of the Global South and foster a more inclusive, just, and equitable global framework.
In early August, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov expressed Russia’s belief that the expansion of BRICS, in some form, would contribute to the organization’s growth and fortification. The specifics of this expansion’s format and scope will be discussed by BRICS leaders during the Johannesburg summit, where Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate via video link.
Focus on Global South’s Agenda, Not Rivalry
The South African ambassador to BRICS, Anil Sooklal, has refuted claims suggesting that the bloc is engaged in competition with Western alliances like the G7, dismissing such characterizations as an “unfortunate narrative.”
During his address at the BRICS Inward Buying and Investment Business Forum in Johannesburg earlier this week, Sooklal emphasized that labeling the group as “anti-West” is inaccurate. He stressed that the primary objective is to advance the interests of the Global South and establish a more inclusive, just, and equitable global structure.
The investment forum serves as a precursor to the upcoming main BRICS leaders’ summit, set to take place in Johannesburg later this month. Speaking with RT, Fikile Majola, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, expressed optimism about BRICS’ significance as a powerful force for transformation. He referred to the summit scheduled from August 22 to 24 as a historic event that could reshape the global landscape.
Ambassador Sooklal highlighted on Monday that discussions at the gathering, which will witness the participation of at least 40 leaders and heads of government, will delve into the extension of local currencies’ usage in trade among member nations. The BRICS New Development Bank has aimed for one-third of its lending to occur in domestic currencies by 2026.
Vincent Masoga, the CEO of African Charm Technologies, also shared his perspective with RT on the sidelines of the investment forum. He asserted that Western-based firms are “blackmailing” businesses aligned with BRICS.
According to Masoga, Western companies and their associates underestimate the significance of trade within the BRICS group. He contended that the unique trade relations established with BRICS partners prioritize development instead of exploitation, particularly benefiting African nations.