IN THE JOURNAL | GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
The united [`non-Western`] states of the world
January-March 2018
By: Yury Sigov

The most important new development would be a sense of political unity among all five nations, if they really want to be heard globally and be taken seriously in their actions. Economic cooperation (even the most successful forms) will never happen without close political coordination and mutual support in the most important international forums, such as the United Nations. Therefore, it is critical for them to agree to Chinese political (and, obviously, economic) leadership of Brics, and that Brics itself is an effective international political instrument in Beijing`s hands.

No doubt it will be difficult to reach such a consensus because India, for example, looks at China as a strategic foe in the region, while Russia sees China as an obvious ally in an inevitable confrontation with the United States. Brazil and South Africa depend on Chinese trade and loans for their economies, so if Beijing wants to lead Brics, that`s fine by them. That said, if the other four members don`t have any common ground on Chinese leadership of Brics, or on the very existence of the organization as an effective common tool in international relations, then it could come crumbling down.

India could express some reservations or Russia (let`s remember the Shanghai Cooperation Organization) may hardly agree to give Beijing leadership of another so-called multinational regional organization. The million-dollar question, of course, is whether the Chinese political leadership wants to do so – and deal with another organization with multiple moving parts. If not, Brics could simply be dissolved or by inertia continue to serve as a convenient and comfortable playground for summits of the leaders of the five Brics members. They could still talk about bilateral issues, but nothing significant would be achieved. Each country would deal with its own national affairs and only keep bilateral relations going. China, nonetheless, has the most financial influence within Brics, and if Brics is going to keep any kind of structure, it will obviously benefit China`s own national interests.

Conclusions

Will Brics nations begin a “new golden decade”? My guess is that it will not be through ramping up economic cooperation or the numerical extension of member countries. It will be through a pragmatic but existential attitude toward the West in general and the United States in particular. Otherwise, flashy summits with “friendly discussions” will remain meaningless and without substance.

COMMENTS
Please login to leave a comment