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BRICS faces rift over push for new members

Centre Court Developments

BRICS faces rift over push for new members
JOHANNESBURG: BRICS leaders meeting in South Africa this week will consider expanding the five-nation bloc at a time of great interest in the group that accounts for a quarter of global wealth.Opinions differ between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa over accepting new members into the loosely-defined club of major emerging economies that is seeking an alternative to the Western-led international order.

Here are some key issues as the BRICS convene in Johannesburg:

South African officials say more than 40 countries have shown some level of interest in joining the BRICS from across the ‘Global South’, a broad term referring to nations outside the West.

Like the BRICS members themselves, these countries represent varying political systems, uneven economic strength, and contrary diplomatic positions, and are as diverse culturally and geographically as Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, to name a few.

Many are traditionally non-aligned nations, such as Indonesia and Ethiopia, and some are openly hostile to the United States and its allies, such as Iran and Venezuela. Some 50 heads of state and government will attend the summit, officials say.

Analysts say China, the most powerful of the BRICS economically, is eager to rapidly grow the club into something of a counterpoint to the G7 group of wealthy democracies.

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In July, Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the BRICS as “the most important platform for cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries” and said China was ready to work with other members to “expand and strengthen” the bloc.

BRICS offers Beijing a forum where it can “cast itself as kind of the champion or the vanguard of the developing world and the global south,” said Brian Hart from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“Beijing views BRICS as a very unique venue for expanding its influence globally,” said Hart, a fellow at the Washington DC-based think tank.

Russia and South Africa also support adding new members but this desire runs counter to India, the other major power in the BRICS, and an economic and geopolitical rival of China.

New Delhi is wary of the BRICS becoming an organ for Beijing to project its agenda and analysts say this conflicting interest could determine who might be admitted in years to come.

PM Modi discusses leveraging BRICS platform to find solutions to global challenges
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BRICS leaders have discussed major global developments and leveraging the five-member bloc’s platform to find solutions to global challenges during a key meeting here. Earlier, the prime minister spoke at the BRICS Business Forum Leaders’ Dialogue.

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