China may be in the process of building an expanded BRICS to pit the bloc as a geopolitical rival for the Group of Seven (G7) nations, as per statements from a Chinese official. In its upcoming summit that will take place in Johannesburg, the bloc will discuss the conditions of adding nations like Saudi Arabia and UAE to its lineup of members.

China Could Leverage Expanded BRICS to Fight G7 Influence

China could be interested in extending the number of countries in the BRICS bloc, integrated by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, to grow its influence and pit the new group as a geopolitical adversary of the Group of the Seven (G7). Several countries have already applied to be an official part of the bloc, which will discuss new admissions for the first time after including South Africa in 2010.

An unidentified Chinese official quoted by Financial Times stated:

If we expand BRICS to account for a similar portion of world GDP as the G7, then our collective voice in the world will grow stronger.

Economic powerhouses like Saudi Arabia and UAE have been in conversation with BRICS to be part of, or to streamline, trade relationships with countries of the bloc. Countries with high GDPs joining the group would bring the reported Chinese intentions closer to the goal. Other countries that have expressed clear anti-U.S. sentiment, like Iran and Venezuela, are also applying to be part of the group.

Opposition to China

Last week, several experts acknowledged the strength of the BRICS bloc. Anthony Rowley, a South China Morning Post journalist, declared that “no one can dismiss lightheartedly now their challenge to the established economic order.” Hung Tran, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, also explained that BRICS could “evolve to become a counterpart to the Group of Seven (G7) in world affairs, resulting in a profound impact on international relations,” predicting China’s intentions.

However, China’s ambition is likely to find an opposing force in India, as the latter is more inclined to position the group as a non-aligned club for the economic interests of developing countries, according to people briefed on the positions of both countries.

South Africa is likely to also oppose China’s intentions. South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor declared on August 7 that South Africa didn’t see the BRICS bloc as “being pro-Russia or anti-Western.” Furthermore, Pandor stated that he thought classifying the group like that would be “extremely wrong.”

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