China is hosting the 14th BRICS summit on Thursday, which analysts see as a chance for Beijing to advance its government and development model in a time of global instability.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will join the leaders of Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa via video link to discuss issues of mutual interest as part of the summit on the theme of ushering in a “new era” of global development.
Ahead of the Beijing summit, Chinese state media praised the BRICS – an acronym for the five emerging economies that together account for about a quarter of the global economy – to boost “multilateral cooperation with non-Western styles, forms and principles,” and stressed the importance of the bloc at a time when “the United States (pulls) its Western allies to ‘rebel’ against globalization”.
In May, Xi called on the group to “reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation and work together to build a global community of security for all”.
Despite their significant differences, the leaders of the five countries maintain some distance from the US-led liberal order.
None of the leaders in Brazil, China, India or South Africa openly condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
Given a complex geopolitical background that includes war in Europe and growing economic decoupling between China and the United States, the 2022 summit provides Beijing with a timely platform to advance its vision of how international relations should be conducted, according to analysts.
“BRICS is a kind of diplomatic counter – offensive on the part of China to both the revival of NATO and the rise of Indo – Pacific mechanisms designed to keep the country in power in check,” said Huang Yanzhong, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. told Al Jazeera.
“Beijing is feeling more and more isolated right now as tensions with the United States and its allies continue as a result of its tacit support for Russia’s invasion.”
Phar Kim Beng, former director of the Political-Security Community at ASEAN’s Secretariat in Jakarta, said Beijing would use the summit to “highlight and criticize the ubiquitous nature of US sanctions imposed on thousands of individuals and entities around the world.”
“This is particularly relevant in a forum focusing on the global south,” Phar Kim Beng told Al Jazeera. “Through the BRICS, China continues to draw on its legacy of ‘always standing on the third world’, as Deng Xiaoping famously said. So I expect they will use this as another chance to criticize US economic sanctions and try to say ‘stop it’.
In addition to criticizing the United States, China is also expected to highlight its own role in the global economy.
This year’s agenda covers a number of topics, but special emphasis will be placed on renewing multilateralism for global economic recovery, deepening the coordination of climate action and strengthening the coordination of pandemics and public health.
“As for the issue that is most important to Beijing right now, I think it’s about global economic recovery and keeping markets open,” said Stephen Nagy, an Indo-Pacific specialist and senior fellow at the MacDonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa. , Canada, told Al Jazeera.
“China’s economy depends on international trade for its prosperity. What we are seeing is that states are deliberately diversifying their supply chains away from China and forming new standard-setting agreements such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or proactively creating coalitions that trade with each other to ensure safe and reliable flows of energy-critical materials, minerals, as well as rare earth materials, ”Nagy said, referring to US President Joe Biden’s signature economic initiative unveiled in Tokyo last month.
“Beijing wants to stop this, and I think any kind of momentum to reverse China’s isolation from the global economy is a net plus from their point of view,” Nagy added.
Huang said he expects economic recovery will be the biggest problem where public health comes close.
“China is being left out of some of the Biden administration’s initiatives on pandemic preparedness, so I think vaccine diplomacy will also be key, as other BRICS countries like Russia and India have a strong vaccine development capacity,” he said.
China proposed expanding the BRICS group during a meeting of bloc foreign ministers in May. Although the proposal was welcomed by other Member States, there have been no official announcements as to who the new members may be.
“We can get a sense of which countries can be invited by looking at their position on Ukraine and their voting behavior regarding the conflict at the UN,” Huang said. “Developing countries that abstained or supported Russia may be recruited to participate.”
Still, China may have its work cut short to make the BRICS an attractive option, as rivals compete with it for influence over emerging economies, according to some analysts.
“Much of what China promotes through the BRICS is attractive to emerging markets, but the challenge for Beijing is that there are a growing number of alternatives for them … whether it’s the free and open Indo-Pacific Vision with an emphasis on infrastructure connectivity , standard setting, sound infrastructure, tools for good governance or alternative financing as well as Japan-led and EU-led infrastructure connection projects, ”said Nagy.
“There are a lot of different projects and initiatives that can enable emerging countries to drive development and make them less dependent on the Chinese,” he added.
“This competition could push China to be more transparent and more rule – based around its agreements along the BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] and through ADB [Asian Development Bank]which I think will be important in diluting their geopolitical influence from the outside. “