China Says BRICS Not Building Anti-Western Coalition
The addition of six more countries to the BRICS group is to facilitate broader cooperation, not to build an anti-Western coalition or fuel confrontation, a Chinese foreign ministry official said while briefing the press in South Africa about the expansion of the emerging markets bloc.
That’s in line with the group’s goal of uniting the Global South and carrying out mutually beneficial cooperation among developing countries around the world, said Li Kexin, director-general of the Department of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The comments came after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced earlier the same day at this year’s BRICS Summit that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had been invited to join the group as full members from Jan. 1.
All five existing members — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have agreed to the expansion, the first in 13 years, Ramaphosa said.
It’s necessary to strengthen cooperation among BRICS countries, especially with the six newcomers, in areas such as the digital economy, artificial intelligence, business and trade, tourism and health, said Li, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.
At the same time, Li said the group is not anti-Western and stressed that it’s opposed to “ganging up” or “engaging in confrontation between camps.”
There have been media reports calling the group an anti-Western coalition and saying it is expanding to rival the U.S.-led Group of Seven.
At the Thursday briefing, Li also denied claims that the inclusion of countries with strained relations with the West, such as Iran, would make BRICS even more anti-Western, saying that the establishment and expansion of the group was not meant to create a group in opposition to other mechanisms or against a particular bloc.
Citing the joint membership of Saudi Arabia and Iran, two long-time adversaries in the Middle East which welcomed a historic restoration of diplomatic relations in March, Li said this proved that BRICS is a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation.
Describing the bloc as open and inclusive, he said member states always welcome dialog with the U.S. and European countries.
The bloc’s focus on development and cooperation rather than ideological confrontation is why many countries want to join amid the global turmoil driven by the Ukraine crisis and China-U.S. tensions, said Li.
More than 40 countries had expressed interest in joining BRICS before the three-day summit in Johannesburg this week, with about half of them formally applying for membership, South African authorities said.
With the new additions, BRICS will account for nearly half of the world’s population, 29% of global economic output and 21% of global trade, he said.
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