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金磚五國近況及展望 – 開欄文
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胡卜凱

前金磚五國正在南非開完高峰會,並增加了六名新成員。這幾天成為熱門議題。我相信這個發展對未來世局將有一定程度的影響。對中國未來國際地位的相關性更是不在話下。

只是我最近體力欠佳,已經積下很多想討論和值得轉載的文章;目前我沒有時間和精力去進一步了解全球南方諸國」和相關「地緣政治」的洶湧暗潮。以下登錄5個超連結和轉載2篇評論以存檔備查。

The fragmentation of the old world order
The expansion of BRICS reflects a striking shift in the global balance of power.
Frank Furedi, the spiked, 08/25/23

BRICS just announced an expansion. This is a big deal.
The message from Johannesburg was loud and clear. But is Washington listening?
Sarang Shidore, the RS, 08/24/23

Growth and dominance: How do the G7 and Brics match up?
A three-way split in the global economy has emerged between the two blocs and the rest of the world
Simon Rushton, 08/22/23


Can BRICS challenge the G7?
Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are deciding whether it's time to go up against the powerful Group of Seven with a rival geopolitical alliance
HAROLD MAASS, The Week, 08/23/23

Brics is now a motley crew of failing states
, 08/24/23


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大金磚的魅力-P. J. Heijmans
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Xi, Putin Score Wins as More Asia Leaders Aim to Join BRICS

Philip J. Heijmans, 06/21/24

(Bloomberg) -- As Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Li Qiang wrapped up separate meetings in Southeast Asia this week, the two partners in the BRICS economic bloc encountered a region keen to join a group seen as a hedge against Western-led institutions.

During an interview with Chinese media ahead of Li’s visit to Malaysia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim declared his intention to apply to the bloc after it doubled in size this year by luring Global South nations — partly by offering access to financing but also by providing a political venue independent of Washington’s influence.

Thailand — a US treaty ally — last month announced its own bid to join BRICS, named after members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bloc “represents a south-south cooperative framework which Thailand has long desired to be a part of,” Foreign Minister Maris Sangiampongsa told reporters last week.

For countries seeking to mitigate the economic risks of intensifying US-China competition, joining BRICS is an attempt to straddle some of those tensions. In Southeast Asia, many nations depend economically on trade with China while also simultaneously welcoming the security presence and investment Washington provides.

But BRICS membership is also a way of signaling increasing frustration with the US-led international order and key institutions that remain firmly in the control of Western powers, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“Some of us, including people like myself, think that we need to find solutions to the unfair international financial and economic architecture,” former Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said in an interview. “So BRICS would probably be one of the ways to balance some things.”


Ukraine Summit

For Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the interest in BRICS also shows their success at pushing back at attempts by the US and its allies to isolate them more broadly over the war in Ukraine and military threats to Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan.

Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy struggled to convince Asian nations to back his peace summit in Switzerland earlier this month, and Putin this week signed a defense pact with North Korea while warning he had the right to arm US adversaries around the world.

A club that for years consisted of just five members expanded with the inclusion of Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Egypt this January. That was a push largely driven by China as it tries to increase its clout on the global stage.

Another Southeast Asian nation, Indonesia, was considered an early favorite to join last year before President Joko Widodo indicated he would not be rushed into the decision.

Still, the momentum to add new members has continued. Despite US and European efforts to prevent countries from dealing with Moscow, representatives from 12 non-member nations appeared at a BRICS Dialogue in Russia this month. They included longtime US foes like Cuba and Venezuela, but also nations such as Turkey, Laos, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan.

Also present was Vietnam, which last year upgraded ties with Washington in a move seen as pushback on Beijing’s rising influence in the region. Hanoi has been following the grouping’s progress with “keen interest,” as state broadcaster Voice of Vietnam put it last month.

 “Vietnam is always ready to participate in and contribute actively to global and regional multilateral mechanisms,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said at the time.

Vietnam welcomed Russia’s leader this week despite strong objections from the US on the grounds that “no country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression” in Ukraine. Vietnam and Russia have ties going back to the Cold War and Soviet era.

In their joint statement issued at the conclusion of their talks, Russia welcomed Vietnam’s participation in the dialogue earlier this month and said they would “continue to strengthen ties between the BRICS countries and developing countries, including Vietnam.”

It wasn’t clear how much BRICS was part of Putin’s closed-door talks in Vietnam, though the two nations pledged to boost defense and energy cooperation. China’s Li used his trip to Malaysia deepen trade and economic ties and advance construction of major projects.

Unwieldy Group

After this year’s expansion, BRICS plans to invite non-member countries to take part in its next summit in the Russian city of Kazan in October. Just hosting the event gives Moscow a chance to showcase to the world that it isn’t totally isolated by Western opposition to the war in Ukraine.

“It’s no secret that Washington doesn’t love the BRICS, particularly with Iran and Russia’s membership,” said Scot Marciel, a former US ambassador to Indonesia, Myanmar and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

At the same time, the larger the bloc grows, the less likely it is to find consensus on key issues, he said. “My sense is, Washington is probably not applauding the move by Thailand and Malaysia to join it, but I don’t think it’s going to cause massive heartburn.”

Officials at the US State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The potential benefits for joining BRICS go beyond geopolitics.

$33 Billion

The bloc’s members have agreed to pool $100 billion of foreign-currency reserves, which they can lend to each other during emergencies. The group also founded the New Development Bank — a World Bank-modeled institution that has approved almost $33 billion of loans mainly for water, transport and other infrastructure projects since it began operations in 2015.

That investment pool would be useful in Southeast Asia, where official development finance dwindled to a low of $26 billion in 2022, according to a report this month by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.

Another draw to membership, Malaysia’s Saifuddin said, is the residual negative sentiment toward institutions like the IMF, which pushed austerity measures sometimes blamed in the region for worsening the economic hardship caused by the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.

Washington isn’t sitting still. It has deepened security links in the region on matters like counter-terrorism, and with countries like Vietnam and the Philippines who are increasingly worried about their disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea. But as the great power competition intensifies across the board, there is also a recognition the region needs to hedge its bets.

“There is increasingly less space for smaller countries to maneuver,” Ong Keng Yong, the former secretary general of Asean said in an interview. “By joining organizations like BRICS, countries are signaling that they want to be friendly to all sides, not just to the US and its allies.”



--With assistance from Thomas Kutty Abraham.


©2024 Bloomberg L.P.



Expainer: How BRICS Became So Much More Than Just a Slogan


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美國如何面對金磚五國的挑戰 -- Sarang Shidore
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As BRICS leaders gather, is Washington asleep at the wheel?

The novel mix of Washington’s friends and rivals has major implications for multipolarity. How is American leadership responding?

Sarang Shidore, Responsible Statecraft, 08/21/23

As BRICS leaders gather in Johannesburg for their 15th summit, the United States has looked on with barely a comment. 

Indeed, the grouping’s make-up is a bit of a contradiction — with Washington’s arch-rivals Russia and China, but also strong partners India, Brazil and South Africa. Many observers in Washington and some Western capitals have traditionally been rather 
dismissive of BRICS, seeing it as just a talk shop with little impact on U.S. foreign policy. Some have even called for its dissolution.

As I argue at length in a 
recent article in The Nation, this is a mistake. BRICS is gradually making a mark. It has more recently attracted major interest for membership from more than 20 other states. When a club has a waiting list for getting in, it is hard to characterize it as irrelevant. States want to join BRICS not because it will transform them overnight into powerful players, but because they see it as a serious attempt to fill a vacuum in the U.S.-led global order; an order that currently falls well short of meeting their needs. They are also hedging to prepare for a future world order in which unipolarity has diminished much more or disappeared altogether.

BRICS can be contrasted with another grouping that typically gets much more attention, one which the United States leads, namely the G7. The G7 is composed of the world’s wealthiest countries, all of which are also core U.S. allies.


Let’s compare the joint statements to come out of the recent 
G7 Hiroshima meeting and the 2022 BRICS summit in Beijing. A core difference between the two is Ukraine. Whereas the G7 harshly condemns Moscow and routinely calls for reversing Russian aggression, BRICS, while taking note of the various national positions of its member states on the conflict, explicitly calls for talks between Ukraine and Russia (while also affirming the principle of territorial integrity). 

BRICS also pointedly refers to climate change in terms of the UN principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (which emphasizes greater responsibility for wealthy countries to reduce their emissions and contribute to global climate action), a greater voice for developing countries in U.S.-led financial institutions such as the World Bank, and support for the JCPOA (otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal). 

The statement also calls for restoring the strength of multilateral bodies such as the World Trade Organization with a clear reference to ending the crisis over the Appellate Body (which the United States has effectively paralyzed.)


BRICS has sometimes been spoken of in the vein of the landmark gathering of Afro-Asian states in Bandung in 1955 or the Non-Aligned Movement, founded in 1961. These were Global South initiatives that opposed bloc politics and the Cold War, and ended up having difficult relations with Washington.


This was partly because the United States took a skeptical, or even critical view, of these initiatives from the start. As Secretary of State John Foster Dulles famously said in 1956, nonalignment was “immoral.” During the early post-Cold War decades, Washington opposed the South’s initiatives such as a 2010 joint Turkish-Brazilian plan to resolve the Iran nuclear crisis and generally acted in intrusive and invasive ways to ensure its dominance in the Middle East and elsewhere.


This time around however, the United States appears to be taking a more reasoned position. Biden administration officials have repeatedly stated in Southeast Asia and elsewhere that they are not asking for Global South states to choose between themselves and their rivals, but instead are offering a choice.


So how should the United States respond to growing and gathering initiatives such as BRICS? Consistently acting in good faith on claims that it is not forcing choices would be a good first step. This doesn’t seem to be happening with the 
treaty allies of America, especially where China is concerned, but not pressuring Global South non-allies would win goodwill and preserve American soft power in these capitals.

The United States should also 
take seriously the discomfort of especially many Asian and African countries toward onerous demands that they perceive as impinging on their sovereignty. These demands include pushing the “democracy v. autocracy” trope, passing intrusive judgments on foreign political systems, and in general trying to universalize its values. 

The application of these values abroad has been heavily marked with inconsistency and double-dealing, making such efforts lose all credibility. Some of these stated values are also bitterly contested within the domestic sphere of the United States itself. Thus, demanding other nations’ conformity with them is both a strategic and (in effect) a moral error.


Finally, Washington needs to 
address at least some of the development-oriented demands emerging from coalitions such as BRICS. These include, but are not limited to, reform of international financial institutions, greater support for international climate action, and ending the current paralysis within the WTO’s Appellate Body and returning to a genuinely rules-based trading approach.

The Global South is increasingly embracing rising East-South coalitions such as BRICS and the 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), not because it is opposed to a major U.S. role in the world. Far from it. Rather, it seeks to hedge against declining unipolarity and build alternative institutions to address the shortfalls of the current order. 

The best way for Washington to respond to this message is to play the game, not sit it out.



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金磚五國和世界新秩序 – Nils Adler
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Can BRICS create a new world order?

Dozens of nations want to join the five-nation club. But to challenge the US-led global hierarchy, BRICS first needs to overcome internal fissures.

Nils Adler, Al Jazeera, 08/22/23

They are giant economies, with even bigger populations and still greater ambitions. Starting Tuesday, leaders of the group of nations known as the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are meeting for a three-day summit, which is expected to draw eyeballs from capitals around the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the August 22-24 conclave in Johannesburg, South Africa, but will participate via a video conference to save the country the embarrassment of hosting a leader with an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant against him related to Moscow’s war in Ukraine. South Africa is a member of the ICC and, under international law, would have been obligated to arrest Putin if he were to visit.

Yet, while the conflict in Ukraine and deepening geopolitical tensions between the United States and China serve as the backdrop for the summit, the BRICS meeting is likely to foreground the grouping’s growing standing as a force challenging a long-dominant, Washington-led world order.

The expansion of BRICS is expected to be high on the agenda. It is a club in demand. From Algeria to Argentina, at least 40 countries have 
shown interest in joining the grouping.

Central to the grouping’s attraction is its rising economic heft. The five BRICS nations now have a 
combined gross domestic product (GDP) larger than that of the G7 in purchasing power parity terms. In nominal terms, the BRICS countries are responsible for 26 percent of the global GDP. Despite this, they get only 15 percent of the voting power at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Coupled with grievances over such imbalances are growing concerns in the Global South that the US could weaponise the dollar through sanctions the way it has against Russia. That has led to BRICS nations individually and collectively trying to reduce their dependence on the US currency while increasing bilateral trade in their own currencies.

Agreeing that something needs to change is one thing, but agreeing on how to work together is another. India and China have been locked in a tense border standoff since May 2020. Meanwhile, India, South Africa and Brazil want warm relations with the West as much as they do with China and Russia.

So, will the BRICS emerge as an alternative economic and geopolitical pillar to the US and its allies? Or could their internal differences limit what the group can accomplish?

The short answer: The clout of BRICS nations is likely to grow but the bloc is much more likely to offer piecemeal economic and diplomatic alternatives to the US-led global order than to dramatically replace it, analysts say. That could still lead to more tensions with the West as the grouping’s leaders seek to chart out an independent path in a world in flux. But to remain effective, the BRICS will need to manage the disparate priorities of its member nations – a challenge that will not be easy for the grouping to address.

‘Voice’ of the Global South

In opening remarks at the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in South Africa on June 1, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar described the current concentration of economic power as one that “leaves too many nations at the mercy of too few”.


It is a sentiment that resonates across the developing world, where the United Nations Security Council’s veto-holding power remains limited to five nations based on an understanding rooted in 1945, at the end of World War II.

In recent years, cracks in that US-led model have deepened. China, a dominant force in global economics as well as a military powerhouse, is testing the limits of Washington’s influence. Iran’s 
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Riyadh last week and met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the latest step towards a pathbreaking normalisation of ties between the traditional Middle Eastern rivals, brokered by China.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the subsequent strengthening of relations between Moscow and Beijing – in the face of Western condemnation – have further accelerated the split. India, Brazil and South Africa have carefully walked a tight-rope, refusing to join Western sanctions or other actions against Russia, while also distancing themselves from Moscow’s justifications for the war.

With the West’s footprint receding in part after part of the world – the latest instance being Niger and the Sahel – there is a growing chorus among Africa, Latin America and emerging Asian powers like India to upend the post-Cold War unipolar system.

Russia and China have pitched themselves as champions of this move away from a US-led order, whose rules – in the eyes of the Global South – Washington itself frequently flouts.

In July, Putin was on a full-charm offensive at a summit in St Petersburg with African leaders and officials, quoting Nelson Mandela and name-checking anti-colonial heroes such as Gamal Abdel Nasser and Patrice Lumumba.

“I think it’s time to rectify the historic wrong against the African continent,” he was quoted as saying when discussing a proposal to reform the UN Security Council, and include African nations as permanent members.

India, too, has actively pushed for the African Union to get a seat at the G20 summit, which New Delhi will host next month.

“There is certainly a space for carving out a new world order,” said Vivek Mishra, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) think tank in New Delhi. That space, he said, had been created by a convergence of two factors: the Global South finding its voice and looking for nations that can champion its interests  and Russia and China finding themselves “at odds in an unprecedented way with the West”.

However, Mishra said it was important to understand that these two factors do not fully overlap, even if they serve the same interests at this moment.

India does not view China as a voice of the Global South, for instance, he said. Instead, New Delhi views China as behaving like a “developed country trying to impinge on the narrative of the Global South”.

Separately, Russia’s war in Ukraine and the resulting disruption in energy and food supplies have also contributed to skyrocketing inflation across the developing world, mostly hurting the very nations Moscow claims to speak for.

Yet the West’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine – practically severing Russia from the global financial system through tough sanctions – has also spooked emerging economies worried about the US potentially wielding that power over all of them too.

Follow the money

An alternative financial system is at the heart of the BRICS appeal.

In 2015, the New Development Bank (NDB) – then known as the BRICS Development Bank – was founded, with headquarters in Shanghai, to give the BRICS members more control of development financing and offer an alternative to US-led institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, set up in the aftermath of World War II.

It was a move that Sanusha Naidu, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue, a South African think tank focusing on China and Africa, said showed real intent and told the Global South that it is possible to challenge the global financial institutional architecture.

BRICS nations have also been building “BRICS pay” – a payment system for transactions among the BRICS without having to convert local currency into dollars. Yet, eight years after the NDB was created, the development bank depends largely on dollars and has struggled to secure that currency amid sanctions on Russia, a founding member. Globally, the 
US dollar accounts for 60 percent of central bank foreign exchange reserves.

Talk of a 
BRICS currency has gained steam in recent months, though South Africa has made clear it will not be discussed at this summit. Gustavo de Carvalho, a senior researcher on Russia-Africa ties at the Johannesburg-based South African Institute of International Affairs, said that the de-dollarisation initiatives of the BRICS, as a group, are not aimed at replacing the dollar but at creating alternatives to facilitate bilateral trade in local currencies.

The idea, as well as the promise to others who want to join or partner with the BRICS, is simple. In addition to the threat of US sanctions, an overwhelming dependence on the US dollar for trade or repayment of debt is costly when the value of the dollar rises – as it almost invariably does during global crises like the one the world has endured since 2020.

There is another rationale to cut the reliance on the dollar, said de Carvalho. It can increase the leverage of developing nations, serving as a “complementary tool” when making “big decisions around development financing and the role of institutions such as the IMF”.

To see the truly “common views” of the BRICS members, he said, one needs to scroll down their joint communiques to parts that always contain references to the members’ influence, or lack thereof, within the World Bank or the IMF.

Those segments of past BRICS declarations portray the “significant frustration that despite being very sizeable, influential economies”, they perceive their influence as “limited”, he said.

One potential way to make the bloc impossible to ignore? Turn a select club of five into a team of many more.

Strength in numbers

In July, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said his country wanted to join the BRICS and had even set aside a kitty of $1.5bn to contribute to the group’s New Development Bank – in essence, to buy its ticket into the gathering. In June, Egypt also requested admission. And over the past year, 
Argentina, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have emerged as other candidates in a lengthening queue to potentially join the bloc, including Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, and Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

China, secure in its position at the head of the table, has made it clear that it is happy to explore the idea. And Russia, in need of international friends, has said it is open to letting new members into the club.

Yet, not all members are sure that a bigger BRICS is necessarily a stronger BRICS.

Brazil has been reticent about an expansion, fearing that its influence could be diluted. “An expansion could transform the bloc into something else,” a Brazilian official told Reuters earlier in August.

India, Naidu said, is not comfortable with the issue of expansion, although it is unlikely to veto any move. Instead, New Delhi is pushing for the group to huddle and develop rules and criteria for potential new members to join.

More broadly, Naidu said, India feels the group needs to get its own house in order before looking at new memberships. This includes, among other things, India and China’s three-year-old standoff involving thousands of soldiers 
stationed along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, has repeatedly said that relations between the Asian giants are “not normal”.

However, Mishra also said that China had shown signs of softening ahead of the BRICS summit, with a recent pledge by military commanders on both sides to “
maintain peace and tranquillity” along the border.

It is unclear whether India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet on the sidelines of the summit. How the BRICS two biggest economies manage their relationship could determine whether the bloc thrives or sputters.

Not an ‘either-or’

In the end, a key strength of the BRICS – which its members repeatedly reference – is that, unlike the West, it is not expecting other countries to choose firm alliances.

For instance, trading within BRICS in local currencies or trading with the US in the dollar need not be an “either-or”, said de Carvalho. For many countries, it can simply be a mechanism that can better serve their interests in certain situations.

Simply put, BRICS is looking to offer a parallel set of economic and diplomatic options to nations rather than trying to actively destroy the US-led model. That idea can be difficult for some people – especially in the West – to grasp at a time when “global politics is so divided”, he said.

But BRICS is no stranger to being misunderstood.

De Carvalho recalled how when the BRICS was formed in 2009, it was met with “dismissiveness” by Western diplomats who attended the first summit.

The rhetoric in the West has since morphed into the idea that the BRICS is simply a bloc kowtowing to China and driven by an anti-Western agenda. They may have been wrong both times, analysts say.

Soon, it might be time to listen and accept that the BRICS simply represent a growing global sentiment: others want a seat at the table too.
 


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