India and Brazil are pushing back against a Chinese bid to rapidly expand the BRICS group of emerging markets to grow its political clout and counter the US, officials with knowledge of the matter said. The countries have raised objections in preparatory talks for a summit in Johannesburg next month where Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will discuss potentially expanding the group to include Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. China has repeatedly lobbied for expansion during those meetings, said the officials, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.

How does expanding the BRICS group of emerging markets increase China's political clout? Doesn't China also have other exclusive groups they can use to increase China's clout like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? I thought that organizations such as the BRICS didn't matter, because China also has bilateral relationships with other countries and uses the UN as a platform to push its voice on the world stage already. I am not sure how adding new members to the BRICS is a significant and important move that will increase China's political clout. In fact, you could argue that the inclusion of new members with distinct geopolitical aspirations in the BRICS could create a scenario where competition for leadership and influence within the group could potentially undermine China's intended goal of increased political clout through dilution of focus within the group and differing agendas.

2 Answers 2


Question: How does expanding the BRICS group of emerging markets increase China's political clout?

Short Answer:

Expanding BRICS is a means to an end. Expanding BRICS could give China an alternative to G-7 markets and over time insulate them from G-7 acts, which China feels infringes on their foreign policy choices. This would allow China to make bolder foreign policy decisions devoid from the threat of sanctions from the West.


China's economy is driven by exports as are most emerging economies. The other largest economies in the world, and largest markets for China, are in the G-7 which have a proclivity to act in unison in sanctioning countries that threaten the established world order. Such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

China's stated hopes for BRICS is to change the unipolar world order lead by the US and EU into a multi polar one. The new pole lead by China which would insulate China from G-7 displeasure. In order for China to reasonable accomplish this it needs emerging countries like India and Brazil. Both expected to ascend to economic super power status in the coming decades. But China also requires BRICS to broaden its membership as a broad economic alliance - China's only hope of achieving their stated goals for BRICS.

India and Brazil are perfectly on board with China when it comes to increasing trade. However neither wants to limit their bright economic future by isolating themselves from what are currently some of the largest economies in the world. The G-7 also make up their largest export markets. So India and Brazil are both important for BRICS to be successful in China's eyes, but they are also currently the greatest impediment to BRICS fulfilling China's vision.

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    Yes, India and Brazil want to economically compete with the west. Russia and China lean more towards forming a political alliance against the west. That is why China wants to add more and more members quickly, and expand BRICS, while others like India want a slower, cautious and pragmatic approach of not allowing a country into BRICS before studying the economic and political implications of giving a country membership.
    – sfxedit
    Aug 29, 2023 at 18:22

In addition to the accepted answer, The Economist covers precisely this subject Aug 23, . Its analysis is less about the benefits, for China, of growing BRICS strength as expansion making China the de-facto boss in the group:

China has been in favour of adding new members for years, India and Brazil have long been sceptical, fearing that it would dilute their influence within the group and that admitting smaller members would reduce the brics’ exclusivity and prestige. Just as important, they worry that it would turn the brics into a China-led bloc. Indeed, Brazilian and Indian officials are probably right in their assumption that countries such as Algeria, Argentina, Egypt and Iran see brics membership as a means, above all, to gain easier access to Chinese investment and financial support.

brics expansion, then, would not be a sign of the group’s growing diplomatic clout—quite the opposite, in fact, since finding a common denominator would become more difficult. Expansion would, rather, be a reflection of China’s growing influence when defining the future of the bloc.

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