An important summit that brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, began on Tuesday in South Africa. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that the meeting “brings together the members of BRICS … who make up a quarter of the global economy, account for a fifth of global trade, and are home to more than 40 percent of the world’s population.”
BRICS plays an important role in the world in terms of economic power and it is increasingly seen by some countries as a way to balance the West. This is important following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, because of the rapid changes globally in terms of tension between Russia and China and the West.
The summit, which begins Tuesday, is expected to continue through Thursday and some 40 heads of state are expected to attend.
Arab News noted that “the first BRICS meeting of foreign ministers was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2006. The organization was known as BRIC before South Africa joined.”
“This BRICS Summit and the state visit by President Xi Jinping, as well as the many bilateral engagements we will have with President Lula da Silva of Brazil, Prime Minister Modi of India, and many other heads of state on the sidelines of the summit, have a bearing on our relationships with other countries and South Africa’s place in the world,” South Africa’s Ramaphosa said. South Africa also supports expanding membership of BRICS. China has said that around 23 countries have applied to join the group.
These include Iran, Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Venezuela, Vietnam, Thailand, and others. They also include several Gulf states, such as Bahrain and the UAE. The Palestinian Authority has also applied. BRICS expansion, therefore, would include countries that are close to the West, but also many countries, such as Iran, which would like to use this group against the West to carve out a new world order. As such, BRICS is increasingly seen as a forum that can challenge the West. It is also one of those groupings, like the SCO and CICA, where China and Russia meet together and may seek to balance the US role in the world.
China takes a central role in international diplomacy
China welcomes this role. For instance, after Iran’s foreign minister recently went to Saudi Arabia, he called China’s foreign minister to discuss the next steps. China has reiterated support for Iran and the JCPOA in recent days. China is also working on new initiatives with the Gulf. Therefore, the BRICS meeting has added importance in our world today, because of the major role that China wants to play and how it is positioning itself in the Middle East.