BRICS and China’s International Strategy

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Dr Jian Junbo highlights the importance of BRICS in China’s strategy of economic growth and peaceful development

This July, the sixth BRICS Summit in Brazil’s Fortaleza was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping along with leaders of other BRICS countries. President Xi also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, indicating that both Beijing and New Delhi have the will to develop a more constructive and consolidated relationship. Beijing hopes this new window of opportunity would help resolve serious issues like the border dispute and enhance bilateral relations. Additionally, Xi’s visit to several Latin American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba was extremely successful. The entire visit clearly highlights the importance of BRICS for China’s strategy. The development and progress of BRICS in fields of finance, trade, technology, and culture has given China the opportunity to promote its influence and assume greater responsibility in the ever changing international arena.

A Revolutionary Development

BRICS cooperation in areas of finance adds much needed impetus to the contemporary world economic system, which is seriously hampered by the global financial crisis. Further, the two pillars of the world’s economic system – World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund have ceased to be as effective as before. As an export-oriented economy, China’s economic development relies completely on international markets, especially the developed world. With traditional markets in the West reeling under recession, China has expanded its search for external markets that could support its political and economic stability and the full development of its domestic market. The BRICS grouping boasts the biggest powers in their respective regions – China in East Asia, India in South Asia, Brazil in South America, Russia in Central Asia, and South Africa in Africa – and thus represents a promising market comprising emerging powers, with greater promise as compared to developed countries. Mutually complementary and inter-dependent economic structures, developmental levels and markets provide the foundation for economic consolidation and rapid growth. For a country that focusses on economic growth, Beijing is keen to encourage development of a fledgling market within BRICS, which, considering the economic scale and potential, will benefit all members, including China.

Despite being the second largest economy in the world and a major contributor to West-dominated international organisations like IMF and World Bank, China’s full participation in these two organisations is excluded. The establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which was welcomed by the president of World Bank and some other non-BRICS countries, is expected to supplement the US-dominated international financial system, set up after the end of World War II. China, together with other BRICS countries, can gradually alter the dominance of Western powers in the international financial system, which will be a significant step for global economic development and stability. This evolutionary rather than revolutionary development towards Western-dominated institutions would create pressure on them to introduce reforms.

Cooperation among the BRICS to alter the global economic architecture also extends to other fields like climate change and infrastructure development, resulting in the rise of the group as a major player in global governance and international politics. This will lead to international democratisation and multi-polarity, two of Beijing’s core strategic objectives. BRICS is an extremely important platform for China to promote the peaceful transformation of the global order. The establishment of this new international institution can balance multilateral arrangements controlled by the ‘old world’ and make the world more equal, without damaging relationships with the Western world.

Towards Cooperation and Peaceful Development

As a founding member of BRICS which facilitates South-South cooperation and unification, China can gain the confidence of the developing world and then develop mutually-advantageous partnerships with them, which, in turn, will promote their economic growth and national development. As a leader of the Non-Alignment Movement and Group 77 comprising developing countries, India has always championed the cause of South-South cooperation. China welcomes the revival of South-South cooperation supported by BRICS.

The ‘strategic pivot’ of the United States to Asia and the challenge from neighbouring countries like Japan has placed twin, strategic pressures on China. The friendship and respect earned by Beijing in BRICS permits the resolution of this strategic pressure created by the US and its allies without direct confrontation with the US. This peaceful approach enables China to realise its great dream of peaceful development.

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Dr Jian Junbo

Dr Jian Junbo is assistant professor at Institute of International Studies in Fudan University, Shanghai.

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