China has taken the lead in expanding the number of member countries. It seeks to strengthen its ties with emerging and developing countries, collectively dubbed the "Global South," and to use them as an axis of opposition to the United States and Europe. Russia has similar aims.
Chinese President Xi Jinping indulged in a bit of self-adulation at the recent BRICS summit, declaring, "This expansion of membership is historic."
No Common Principles
Nonetheless, we cannot overlook the possibility that proceeding with an enlargement based on the idea of confrontation could further divide the international community and foster conflict.
BRICS also includes democracies such as India and Brazil. That means it essentially has no common principles or policies. China and Russia should be aware that their opposition to the US and Europe may conversely increase dissonance within the BRICS grouping.
Declining US Influence
Of these, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran are among the world's leading producers of petroleum. Moreover, for many years, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have had close ties to the US. The new membership of these two countries is a clear indication of the decline of American influence in the Middle East and North Africa regions.
Meanwhile, China, having brokered the normalization of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, has been increasing its presence in the region. Iran is doggedly anti-American. At present, it is even providing drones and other military equipment to Russia for use in its Ukraine invasion. Consequently, there are concerns that Iran's membership will bring an anti-American character to the BRICS.
Dissonance within BRICS
The fact, however, is that BRICS is not monolithic in character.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said, "BRICS is intended to organize emerging and developing countries, not to oppose the US or the G7 countries."
India was reportedly also cautious about expanding its membership. The country participates in the Quad cooperative framework along with Japan, the United States, and Australia.
China and Russia aim to use the expanded BRICS to reshape the international order. However, those two countries are clearly not qualified for such an undertaking. After all, Russia violated the United Nations Charter by invading Ukraine, and China is attempting to change the status quo by force in the South China Sea and elsewhere.
Brazil has complained about how the invasion of Ukraine has become prolonged. What the BRICS must now do is to urge Russia to withdraw from Ukraine immediately and stop its aggression against that nation.
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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun