Group has become platform for developing countries, emerging markets to collaborate
A growing number of leaders, officials and experts are voicing hopes for the BRICS mechanism to help the world better tackle the global economic downturn and prevent global governance from grinding to a halt.
They made their observations as President Xi Jinping is poised to host the 14th BRICS Summit on Thursday.
The BRICS grouping of leading emerging economies initially started in 2006 with four members－Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa became the fifth member in 2011.
The summit comes at a time when the gap between rich and poor countries is widening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and readiness among nations for greater collaboration on global development is shrinking, observers said.
BRICS accounts for about 40 percent of the world's population and 24 percent of global GDP.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the BRICS nations and the international community as a whole "need to redouble their efforts to restore multilateralism, which prioritizes unity in addressing challenges".
Xu Xiujun, director of the International Political Economy Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics, said, "Since its establishment, BRICS has sent a strong message that its members have their own rights for seeking greater development."
Over the past 16 years, the grouping has become "a major platform" for the BRICS countries and the rest of developing countries and emerging markets to collaborate, as well as a key forum for consultation among the five BRICS members for participation in global governance, Xu said.
"We are seeing a resurgence of Cold War mentality as well as attempts at bloc confrontation, and several developed countries have embarked on cliques, such as the 'Indo-Pacific' strategy, in an attempt to divide the world into two systems," Xu said.
Last month, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is India's minister for external affairs, warned at the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting that "the knock-on effects of the Ukraine conflict have led to sharp increases in the costs of energy, food and commodities".
"This must be mitigated for the sake of the developing world," he said.
Zhu Jiejin, a professor at Fudan University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs, said that "it is an irreversible trend to witness the rise of emerging markets and developing countries as a whole in the 21st century".
"The birth of the BRICS mechanism stems from the joint pursuit by these emerging markets and developing countries of boosting their international say, their ability to set agenda, shape rules and bring the global governance system toward greater fairness, justice and equality," Zhu said.
The security and development of developing countries "are suffering heaving blows" because economic globalization is suffering from strong headwinds and frustrations, and the gaming among major countries is increasingly intense, according to Zhu.
"In this context, reinforced BRICS cooperation facilitates unity among the emerging markets and developing countries, helps make the global governance system better respond to the justified concerns and pursuits of these nations, and protects their legal and rightful interests," Zhu added.
In recent years, countries including Argentina and Egypt have expressed their willingness to join BRICS.
Kester Kenn Klomegah, an independent researcher on African affairs and a writer for the Eurasia Review website, said that "many countries are showing an interest in the underlying principles and values of BRICS".
"BRICS is an organic association of countries that have many things in common: They have several shared interests and common approaches to addressing challenges that are relevant to all of humanity," Klomegah wrote in an article last month.
At the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting last month, the ministers "supported advancing the process for expanding the membership of BRICS and indicated that further discussions would be held on this issue", according to China's Foreign Ministry.
"China will work with BRICS parties to continue to have in-depth discussions on BRICS expansion and determine the standards and procedures for that on the basis of consensus. We look forward to more like-minded partners joining the big family of BRICS," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on May 27.
Chen Fengying, an economist and former director of the Institute of World Economic Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that "there should be a delicate design about the membership expansion process".
"Efforts should be made to prevent the grouping's efficiency from being dragged down by overly expanded membership, and the grouping also needs to steer clear from potential frictions triggered by different demands or conflicting interests," she said.
BRICS members need to keep an eye on the big picture, make a long-term plan to make the BRICS mechanism even stronger, revitalize South-South cooperation and boost the dialogue between developing and developed countries, she added.
Zhu, the Fudan University professor, said that initiating the grouping's expansion "helps display the BRICS nations' image of openness and inclusiveness, and will boost their representativeness and say in the world".
"In the meantime, more emerging markets and developing countries could tap into this platform to boost their say and influence in the world," Zhu added.
Ren Lin, head of the Department of Global Governance at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics, said that given the current international situation, which poses potential risks of major confrontation, there should be greater unity to shore up positivity, in order to offset potential risks.
"Expanding BRICS' influence and its circle of friends could further promote democratization of international relations and better consolidate the efforts of emerging markets and developing countries, thus providing a greater boost to global economic recovery," she added.