Brics: A summit becomes a casting for Putin and Xi’s perfidious world game

When the investment bank Goldman Sachs presented “BRIC” in 2001, the astonishment was great: What should countries as different as Brazil, Russia, India and China have in common, which are located on different continents, are subject to different political systems and have disparate economies?

The astonishment did not diminish when South Africa joined the club in 2010 and the acronym “BRICS” was created, which the group still uses today. If you compare the economies of the members with each other, it becomes clear that they are considered more economical actor cannot speak with one voice, even if they wanted to: India is many times poorer than the People’s Republic, the growth rates in Brazil and South Africa are below those of China and India.

BRICS – a geopolitical playground for Xi Jinping

Perhaps that is why today Russia and China want to position the BRICS primarily as a political counterweight to the G7 and other institutions that those in power in Moscow and Beijing brand as Western. China’s ruler Xi Jinping is actively trying to persuade the other members that the BRICS should admit new states. It is said that around 40 nations have already expressed an informal interest in such a new membership.

At the top of this list are countries like Iran and the United Arab Emirates, players whose human rights violations are outrageous in some cases and who would take away any hope that the BRICS could become a good player on the international stage if they were admitted.

The politicization of the BRICS, as envisaged by the Beijing dictatorship, would turn the group into another geopolitical playground for Xi Jinping, whose declared goal is to place the People’s Republic in the center of the world and thus at the center of all relevant global activities.

Not all members want to become Beijing’s vehicle

Even if China is the largest donor and most powerful member of the BRICS, the other members are not automatically happy with the desire to become a vehicle for Beijing. This is how South Africa managed to prevent dictator Putin from traveling to Johannesburg. The warmonger is wanted on an international arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ukraine.

Putin is said to have had thousands of children kidnapped from Ukraine in order to “Russify” them in Russia. The same is accused of his junior partner, the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko. China’s ruler Xi, a declared friend of the Kremlin dictator, does not dispute that. He himself allows such crimes to be committed in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Since South Africa recognizes the International Court of Justice, Vladimir Putin would have to be arrested immediately if he sets foot on South African soil. Apparently South Africa wanted to fulfill this obligation, otherwise Putin would certainly have traveled to South Africa. In this way, the remaining BRICS states are given the freedom to remain a serious and, above all, law-governed association.

India and Brazil want a place among the winners

India and Brazil have sided with China in the past. The People’s Republic claims to be neutral. In truth, ruler Xi supports Putin to the best of his ability. Anything that disrupts the international order is fine with Xi. Hence his support for the North Korean terror regime and the Tehran government.

Brazil under President Lula and India under Prime Minister Modi both want to exploit the war against Ukraine for their own ends: India secures cheap oil from Russia, China is the largest lender and investor in Latin America. In a world where new centers of power seem to be emerging (at least that is the rhetoric and propaganda of Beijing and Moscow), they want a place among the winners.

A major factor here is that Ukraine is far away from India and Brazil and thus outside of Lula and Modi’s direct sphere of interest. At the same time, the legroom they seem to hope for by supporting Beijing does not mean they want to inherit it from the United States and its Democratic allies. Although Brasilia and New Delhi welcome the power struggle between the People’s Republic and the USA, they do not do so at any price. India is also an archrival of China. The two countries have a border dispute that sometimes culminates in skirmishes with dead soldiers.

Will Putin and Xi pull Brazil, India and South Africa in front of the cart?

It would therefore be an immediate, short-term gain for Beijing and Moscow if the final documents of the meeting in Johannesburg struck a critical tone towards the USA and the free world. In the weeks leading up to the summit, emissaries from the two dictatorships tried every opportunity to get the same points across in statements, communiqués and press releases; namely, that their nationalistic will to expand is not the reason for the various difficulties in their countries, but that the free world must be held responsible for them.

It’s up to Brazil, India and hosts South Africa to decide whether or not to let the two friends without limits, Putin and Xi, pull them over the cart.

Hank Peter

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