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China backs BRICS expansion, says this can make 'global governance more just'

President of China Xi Jinping attends the plenary session during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

China’s President Xi Jinping has called for the acceleration of the expansion of the BRICS group of major emerging economies, arguing this would help the world obtain a "more just" global governance. 

Xi made the remarks Wednesday while addressing the 15th summit of BRICS leaders in the South African city of Johannesburg, as leaders of  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa weigh on rules for admitting new members to the bloc more than a decade after its inception.

The Chinese president said he was glad to see that developing countries had shown great enthusiasm in participating in BRICS and many have applied to join.

"We should let more countries join the BRICS family to pool wisdom and efforts to make global governance more just and equitable," Xi said.

The bloc comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which account for about 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of global gross domestic product.

South Africa said last month that over 40 other nations have expressed interest in joining the organization, which aims to offset the hegemony of the US-led West in global affairs. Of those, 22 have formally asked to join it.

Despite diverse economic and political priorities among existing members and the rivalry between China and India, there seems to be a general consensus among the five leaders for expansion of the group in principle.

BRICS functions on a consensus-based decision-making process, meaning that all current members must agree before new members are accepted.

In the meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said India fully supports the expansion of BRICS and welcomes moving forward with consensus on this.

“We will keep working together to strengthen the voice of the global south as well,” he said

He said the expansion will ensure that the world economy is growing faster than before and will continue to improve the BRICS community in developing economies and nations.

The expansion, he maintained, will address poverty, education, technology, health services, and other issues.

Russia and South Africa have already voiced support for BRICS’ expansion.  

The potential expansion of the bloc, referred to as BRICS +, aims to turn it into a geopolitical bloc to challenge Western financial and currency dominance.

Iran is among dozens of countries that seek membership in BRICS and has submitted a formal application to join the body. Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi is set to depart for South Africa to attend the event at the invitation of Ramaphosa. 

Russia and China have welcomed Iran’s application and the group’s expansion to include international powerhouses.

In addition to expansion, BRICS members are contemplating a broader economic policy shift away from US dollar-based trade within the bloc.

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