Rising Powers in Asia Express Divergent Views on Future of BRICS Group

Rising Powers in Asia Express Divergent Views on Future of BRICS Group

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Durban last week for the 5th BRICS Summit, where the group appeared to make some progress on the idea of a BRICS development bank. In today’s Policy Alert, we examine and contrast Russian and Chinese optimism in BRICS, with the much more cautious and cynical views from India and South Korea.

 

RUSSIA

Commentary in Russia uniformly praised the BRICS countries for establishing a “polycentric system of international relations,” and noted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS framework.

  • BRICS has transformed itself from a political idea into a tangible symbol of a multipolar world,” said Vadim Lukov, the Russian foreign ministry’s special envoy to BRICS. Lukov also highlighted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS. “China’s approach to BRICS is characterized by a deep understanding of the significance of creating a new multi-polar international system. Russia-China cooperation within BRICS is one of the important engines of its development.”
  • The absence of consensus on a BRICS development bank, initiated during the previous summit in India, elicited mixed views from Russian experts:
    • Leonid Gusev, expert at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), predicted that making progress on the bank is unlikely, noting that the BRICS economies, particularly China and India, are too closely integrated with the American market for significant changes to take place.
    • Sergei Katyrin, chairman of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was more optimistic, stating that “while no ultimate decisions have been made on the bank’s quantitative parameters, its authorized capital, its contributors and the volume of contributions…I think this project will eventually take shape.”

INDIA

Most Indian views on the BRICS were either skeptical that the bloc can have any real impact, or were wary of China dominating a BRICS bank in the future. 

The proposal to create a $100 billion BRICS bank drew sharp criticism by many newspaper editorials.

The exception in criticism was an editorial by The Hindu, in which the paper’s leftist and nationalist stance lent support to this possible alternative to the current Bretton Woods financial system. Calling the bank “a great idea,” the paper acknowledged China’s likely dominance but argued that it “should not detract from the merits of the BRICS bank, especially its development orientation and stress on infrastructure financing.”

CHINA

Chinese commentary on the BRICS expressed confidence in the bloc’s political and economic potential, with mixed messages about the extent to which China will play a dominant role.

Scholars also expressed high hopes for the BRICS on a range of issues.

SOUTH KOREA

In South Korea, a number of reports have suggested that the BRICS influence is fading, accounting for skepticism and lack of coverage regarding the BRICS summit.

Earlier this year, a report by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency  suggested that “BRICS are giving way to VIPs,” referring to Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines as “major markets for Korean exporters.” The report noted that while the VIP countries are just starting to grow, the BRICS countries are already seeing their growth levels fall, making the former a better bet for local exporters.

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