Expanding Brics key to enhancing its vitality, says China

18 August 2023 - 17:03
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Chinese ambassador Chen Xiaodong briefed the media on Friday ahead of the 15th Brics Summit next week.
Chinese ambassador Chen Xiaodong briefed the media on Friday ahead of the 15th Brics Summit next week.
Image: Amanda Khoza

China actively promotes the expansion and strengthening of the Brics bloc to accommodate other countries as members, the country's ambassador to Pretoria said on Friday.

“As the world faces rising exclusiveness and protectionism, President Xi Jinping [previously] pointed out that Brics is not an exclusive club or small circle, but a big family of good partners that is based on mutual assistance for win-win co-operation,” Chen Xiaodong said.

Briefing the media about Xi's upcoming visit to South Africa for the 15th Brics Summit from August 22 to 24, including a state visit due to be hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Xiaodong said it was during China’s chairship of the previous Xiamen summit that the country outlined the new concept of Brics plus co-operation.

That, he said, ushered such co-operation onto a new stage.

Xiaodong said last year Brics leaders reached consensus on the bloc's expansion after discussions about criteria and procedures.

So far, notable sections of the international community had strongly supported Brics co-operation. 

“A total of 23 countries have formally applied to join the Brics mechanism. Brics expansion has become the top trending issue at the moment. Expansion is key to enhancing the Brics mechanism’s vitality. I believe this year’s summit will witness new and more solid steps on its front,” he said.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that 24 countries have indicated they will send high-level delegations, including Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran is lobbying other Brics members for it to be allowed to join the group. Russian President Vladmir Putin and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev are expected to attend virtually. 

Brics Sherpa Prof Anil Sooklal told the paper that of the 70 countries that have been invited, at least 40 presidents, deputies and foreign ministers have confirmed their attendance.    

About 20 dignitaries, including the UN secretary-general, the AU chair, the president of the Development Bank and the secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area, have been invited. 

The 23 countries that have expressed their desire to join Brics are Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Venezuela and Vietnam. 

At next week’s much-anticipated meeting, Xi will look to his counterparts to actively explore projects that meet the development needs of five countries and the common interests of their people.

“They will explore building Brics co-operation mechanisms for young people and persons with disabilities to take Brics co-operation to a higher level,” said Xiaodong. 

South Africa is expected to roll out the red carpet for Xi at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday

This is Xi’s first physical attendance at a Brics Summit after three years and the third time Brics countries will get together on African soil after five years. 

During the visit, Xi will co-chair a China-Africa Leader’s dialogue, participate in the Leaders’ Retreat and Brics Plus dialogue.

He is also expected to have meetings with other Brics members, the Brics Plus and outreach countries in a bid to strengthen solidarity, co-operation, advancing Brics expansion and other issues.

“The Chinese side is confident that President Xi’s reunion with the Brics leaders in South Africa will produce important results and inject new energy into Brics co-operation," Xiaodong said, adding that Brics had become an important platform for global co-operation among emerging markets and developing countries.

“Brics has increasingly become a staunch force in defending international justice. The world is now witnessing constantly changing dynamics in the international situation. The traditional global governance system has become dysfunctional, deficient and mission in action," he said in a jab seemingly directed at the West. 

The international community is looking forward to stronger Brics solidarity and co-operation so Brics can play a leading role in ushering in new vision for world peace and development, said Xiaodong. 

Brics continues to advance co-operation in areas such as trade and investment, energy and resources, as well as finance and monetary matters, he added.

Furthermore, he said the bloc also expanded co-operation in emerging areas such as supply chain, logistics, agriculture and food security, local currency, settlement and cross-border payment, vaccines and public health.

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