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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Photo: Handout

BRICS members back China’s call for expansion

  • Although the other members of the group of developing countries supported the proposal, they have yet to name the candidate countries
  • The meeting took place against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine and China used the meeting to criticise Western sanctions
The BRICS countries have backed a Chinese suggestion that the bloc should be expanded, but have not named the candidate countries.
A joint statement by the foreign ministers of the bloc – whose other members are Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – following an online meeting on Thursday supported its first expansion in a decade, but said they needed to clarify relevant guiding principles, standards and procedures.
Although no candidate countries have been named, earlier this year Argentine President Alberto Fernández said he wanted his country to join, and analysts have said Indonesia is another likely candidate.

Brazil, Russia, India and China initially formed the bloc in 2009, with South Africa joining in 2010.

The meeting of five foreign ministers, including Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, was the first since his country invaded Ukraine in February.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi repeated Beijing’s position calling for peace talks and criticised Western countries for providing arms to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.

Xi calls for more trust, security cooperation in BRICS talks

“Delivering arms cannot bring peace to Ukraine, and pressure by sanctions cannot solve the European security dilemma,” Wang said, according to a readout from the Chinese foreign ministry.

He said China opposes the weaponisation of international economic and financial cooperation and coercing other countries to choose sides. He also called for an effort to reduce the spillover effect of the war, which has hit international trade and food supplies “especially in supporting vulnerable developing countries to tide over the difficulties”.

The minister also urged the other BRICS countries to be “independent” and “fair” over Ukraine.

Three BRICS members – China, India and South Africa – earlier abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution to condemn Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

The joint statement, with a brief address on the Ukraine issues, said the foreign ministers “supported Russia negotiating with Ukraine” and “discussed concerns over the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and beyond”.

South Africa was the latest country to join the bloc. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Without naming the United States, Wang called on the bloc to resist the creation of “parallel systems” to divide the world.

He also said BRICS nations should oppose all kinds of unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction”.

The 25-point joint statement issued after the meeting included pledges to work together on issues such as global governance, climate change, anti-terrorism, arms control, human rights, and AI technology.

China and Russia also expressed support for the three other members playing a greater role in the United Nations.

Argentina was among the nine developing countries and emerging economies taking part in a separate meeting with the BRICS countries on Thursday night.

Argentina’s ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, said the invitation to take part “was extremely important,” and constituted a step toward “formal entry” into the bloc.

The other eight participants were Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

Jiang Shixue, director of the Centre for Latin American Studies at Shanghai University, said the expansion of BRICS is seen as an “irreversible trend” by many observers.

“Facing an increasing attack by the developed countries led by the United States, developing countries and emerging economies should expand our strength to play a bigger role in global governance,” Jiang said.

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Jiang said China has been making efforts in this direction since the “BRICS Plus” formulation was first mooted in 2017 with the objective of widening the bloc’s “circle of friends”.

Xu Hongcai, from the China Association of Policy Science, said the bloc should invite Group of 20 countries with international influence and large economies, such as Indonesia and Argentina.

“The G20 is composed of major developed and developing countries, BRICS lacks representation in ignoring other developing nations. It will be a good idea to first select G20 member nations to join the bloc,” Xu said.