BRICS Strengthening Voice of the Developing World
BRICS is about achieving an equal international environment premised on multipolarity where each state can successfully attain its right to development in conjunction with national sovereignty.
The 15th BRICS summit has convened in Johannesburg, South Africa. The BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, is a grouping of the world’s “largest economies of the future,” primarily representing the developing world. Together, BRICS have sought to envision a new form of multilateralism and economic coordination that addresses the global disparity in wealth and development, which has always favored the West. Within the past year, many additional countries have also applied to join the group.
From the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing has identified itself as a global south country and sought to commit itself to solidarity with the developing world. Friendship between China and South Africa has traversed a long span of time. As early as in the mid-20th century, the newly founded People’s Republic of China lent firm support to the South African people in fighting apartheid and stood with the African National Congress as comrades and friends.
It is on this legacy that China has offered vast amounts of support to the global south, including humanitarian aid, development assistance, infrastructure construction, and enhanced economic ties, all while respecting national sovereignty. It is based on this premise that the organization of BRICS strives to be a greater multilateral effort between the major nations of the global south in order to address economic inequalities to better facilitate the development and interests of these countries. In doing so, BRICS is not about a question of “hegemony” or “ideological dominance.” Rather, BRICS is about achieving an equal international environment premised on multipolarity where each state can successfully attain its right to development in conjunction with national sovereignty.
For the past 400 years, the pathway to economic development has been exclusively dominated by a select group of Western countries who, having built vast global empires, were able to incorporate themselves as the primary holder of global wealth at the expense of those they colonized, including China. Although the area of “formal colonization” came to an end in the 1950s and 1960s, the “right to development” among the newly independent nations of the global south has been blocked by Western nations who have made it solely conditional upon subservience to their ideological, economical, and strategic interests, which have only perpetuated this inequality. This has left many countries across the world seeking to develop themselves, but on their own terms and conditions, without having to cede sovereignty or make strategic choices that are deemed to compromise their national interests. As such, the rise of BRICS as an alternative economic institution is very important as it provides a framework for how these countries can work together and, therefore, envision a new pathway for themselves.
As a part of this, it is vital that all countries within BRICS hold a greater understanding of each other and do so by enhancing educational and people-to-people exchanges. As quoted in the organization’s letter to the South African media: “Amity between the people holds the key to sound state-to-state relations.” Above it all, it must be a partnership of true solidarity and mutual understanding, as well as common interests. BRICS countries must be prepared to work together and enhance cooperation, exploring a shared worldview and developmental historical experience. A job well done in this regard will keep BRICS cooperation vibrant.