In the lead-up to the upcoming BRICS summit, Johannesburg, a fierce battle for the future of the bloc is unfolding as India and Brazil push back against China’s bid to rapidly expand the group of emerging markets.
The move is seen as an effort by China to bolster its political clout and counter the influence of the United States. However, officials from India and Brazil, who have knowledge of the matter, have expressed concerns over the potential transformation of BRICS into a Western bloc.
The preparatory talks for the summit, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, have witnessed repeated attempts by China to lobby for expansion. The discussions have also seen dozens of other nations vying for inclusion, raising alarms among Western countries about the group’s shifting dynamics and growing significance on the global stage.
Opposition Of India And Brazil
Reportedly, at the heart of the opposition lies Brazil’s reluctance to see BRICS become a confrontational body that challenges the G7. On the other hand, India is advocating for strict rules regarding the process of admitting new members, insisting on consensus among existing members before any formal expansion. India has always tried to make these inter-governmental platforms, a window for constructive cohesiveness. It doesn’t want the organisation to be reduced to merely a puppet against west.
The summit, scheduled for August 22-24, will be an opportunity for India and Brazil to explore the possibility of granting observer status to additional countries, rather than directly expanding the group’s membership. While South Africa is open to discussing various membership options, it has not expressed outright opposition to expansion. China, on the other hand, is unyielding in its bid to broaden the BRICS coalition and has repeatedly called for expansion during the preparatory meetings.
Last year, the BRICS leaders authorized the potential expansion of membership, which has led to the ongoing debate about its scope and implications. However, Russia, another member of BRICS, does not hold a firm position on the matter and is following the lead of other countries within the bloc. Draft rules for admission to BRICS have been developed in response to India’s opposition to China’s expansion efforts, indicating the seriousness of the internal struggle within the group.
Summit Amidst Geopolitical Turmoils
The guidelines are expected to be discussed and possibly adopted during the summit next month. The summit’s timing is also crucial, considering the heightened tensions between China and Western powers, with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin participating virtually to avoid an International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued by South Africa.
While BRICS members have refrained from blaming and sanctioning Russia over its actions in Ukraine, Western concerns persist about the group’s stance on geopolitical issues.
It remains to be seen how the internal dynamics within BRICS play out and whether China’s push for expansion will find support from other member nations. The summit in Johannesburg will be a decisive moment in shaping the bloc’s future trajectory and its role in the ever-evolving global landscape.