On August 22-24, the 15th BRICS Summit was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was the rotating chair of 2023. During the meeting, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unanimously invited Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to join the emerging economic bloc.

Then, the decision was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa at a press conference. Following the normal procedure, the full membership of the new countries will take effect from January 1, 2024.

There is no question that BRICS, which represents emerging economies, has worked for the fundamental interests of the developing nations now coined as the Global South to urge a more equitable global order.

Since they have pushed for transforming international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank to exhibit equity, the global political dynamics are changing, and a more diverse and just multipolar international order is advanced by the majority of the international community.

Since BRICS already covers more than 40 percent of the world’s population and a quarter of the global GDP, admitting new members would strengthen the bloc’s leverage and status.

When President Ramaphosa highlighted the consensus on guiding principles, criteria, and procedures for expanding new members, Indian Prime Minister Modi commended it as a key to BRICS as it aligns itself with changing times.

Also, while Chinese President Xi hailed the expansion as a new beginning for cooperation, focusing on advancing global peace and development, President Putin of Russia firmly endorsed the expansion’s significance.

In the long run, this expansion can be seen as a driving force for BRICS to champion multipolarity on the global stage since there will be great potential for collaboration among them to facilitate their collective journey toward development and to share the fruits of prosperity.

Yet, Western mainstream media and pundits have long derided BRICS as an awkward mishmash of different economies and cultures with little in common.

For the past decade and a half, the Global North has tried to assure the public that BRICS has very little to do about anything.

But as U.S. scholar Joseph Mahoney has observed, “since BRICS has come of age and also begun to provide what many view as both a shared philosophy and practical framework for advancing a more equitable and multipolar world order, and with more than 40 countries reportedly seeking membership, the talk in Washington, London and elsewhere has shifted predictably.”

No doubt, if it works together, a Global South in general and BRICS, in particular, represent the majority of the world’s resources, manufacturing, markets, population, and GDP.

It is opined that “Now an expanded BRICS would have 72% of the world’s rare earths, 75% of its manganese, 50% of its graphite, 28% of its nickel, and 10% of its copper (excluding Iran’s reserves as it has held amounts of critical minerals, including the largest zinc reserves in the world and the second-largest copper deposit in its Sarcheshmeh mine (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2023.)

The enlargement of BRICS has likely created a new economic landscape, particularly for major oil producers and exporters like Saudi Arabia and Iran have joined BRICS.

This has the potential for de-dollarization in the oil trade since BRICS could drive the gradual transition of members using local currencies other than the U.S. dollar for oil trade transactions.

If it becomes significant, it can challenge the dominance of the U.S. dollar at large. Eventually, it aligns with an essential goal of creating a multipolar world order, resisting and countering unilateral interventions driven by the U.S. military and dollar.

Due to this, the BRICS expansion is seen as a trend to reduce the reliance on U.S. dominance since the summit highlighted the importance of using local currencies in trade and financial transactions.

It is also noticeable that since China is the leading economic power of BRICS and the pacing power in the world, it has been recast in the West as a “Sino-centric conspiracy,” referring to the fact that China aims to align with what has been described as the “mostly authoritarian” governments of the Global South against the democratic valued-shared countries of the Global North led by the United States.

With that in mind, the elites of the West have talked of China with stark misrepresentations of simple facts. During the earlier days, the dominant narrative about China was in line with the so-called “collapse thesis,” which was based primarily on the values associated with the theme that the American model of liberal democracy and free market capitalism was the be-all-end-all of human development.

Then collapse theorists have argued that China’s rapid economic development and increasing presence in global trade would make certain a fundamental change in its political system and gradually lead to a liberal democratic regime in Beijing similar to or at least compliant with the one in Washington.

Yet, the seminal efforts of China’s leadership have eliminated extreme poverty while establishing a middle-income population of more than 400 million.

As a result, the rise of China has been seen in the Global North as a “systemic rival” to their hegemony, both values and regimes.

The same is true for Western narratives about BRICS, as they have argued that BRICS members have little in common with each other economically, geographically, or culturally. This is typical of zero-sum logic and its simplistic winners versus losers balance sheet.

Quite a few scholars hold that all the current members of BRICS have, in principle, consented to support a global international community in line with the U.N. Charter and law rather than the existing privileges of wealth and power that have cast the unilateral hegemony of the U.S. led West.

It is necessary to be aware that as a multilateral organization, BRICS has been a paradigm of democratic and inclusive practices.

The purpose of the emerging economies is to enhance their common interests while narrowing the differences by helping each other move forward since many others in the Global South have found prospective BRICS membership enticing.

On both formal and informal occasions, China has reiterated that any BRICS member should observe the core tenets of mutual respect and equality among themselves.

The common need to bring BRICS together, old and new, is rooted in the shared aspiration that aims to recreate multipolarity to replace what has long been and, to some extent, remains a unipolar order dictated by the U.S. and its core allies.

Rather, this is not about asserting a China model or Chinese dream in place of the Washington Consensus or American dream.

It’s about creating space for all to dream and realize those dreams and to do so in ways that nurture a shared future for humanity.

It concludes that it marks a critical juncture in the uneasy journey to admit six new members into BRICS despite India reportedly vetoing Algeria’s application to join BRICS at France’s request.

However, it will surely bring fresh perspectives on economic growth and developmental initiatives given this seminal move towards an inclusive global governance system in line with fair and equal to developing and under-developed countries.

To that end, the vast majority of the Global South and the huge potentials of China, India, and Russia, particularly, which are members of both BRICS and the SCO, are vital to the emerging world order. This demonstrates that together, BRICS never breaks as long as they seek a multilateral world order.

Also read: BRICS Summit 2023: Reshaping Global Dynamics 

*Liu Peng-qi has an MA in Geopolitics & is a junior research fellow at the School of International & Public Affairs, Jilin University

*Paul Wang is a professor of International Law & International Relations Shi-Liang School of Law, CZU.

**The views expressed in this article are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Diplomatic Insight.