The expansion of the Brics group of developing economies has led to some bizarre alliances, such as India partnering with China and Saudi Arabia aligning with Iran, even though these countries are in conflict with each other. The purpose and coherence of this grouping, which aims to counter the dominance of the G7 economies, appear questionable. Curiously, while Egypt has been included, more significant economies like Nigeria and Indonesia have been overlooked.
If the Brics alliance is intended to be a front for China’s leadership in the developing world, participating nations should be cautious. Joining could inadvertently lend legitimacy to questionable actions, such as Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
However, the primary concern lies in the growing influence of China. Over the past 45 years, China’s remarkable economic progress has been evident, but its impact on already wealthy economies has been less clear. China has often appeared as a deceiving force, and its engagement with many developing nations has not been without challenges.
It’s important to recognize the benefits of free trade based on the principle of comparative advantage, allowing nations to specialize and trade efficiently. Nonetheless, this also requires fairness. The West has realized that depending heavily on potentially hostile actors for vital economic resources raises security concerns. China’s strategic control over crucial production areas and resources has become evident, and its ambitions extend further.
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The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities caused by these dependencies. Supply chain disruptions highlighted the West’s reliance on external sources for essential goods. While interdependence is crucial, it needs to be balanced with self-sufficiency to prevent inefficiencies and conflicts.
China’s economic progress and its role in lifting millions out of poverty are commendable. However, concerns extend beyond economic competition. China’s growing sense of superiority became evident after the 2008 financial crisis, and President Xi Jinping reinforced this narrative. During the pandemic’s early stages, China’s response seemed exemplary, leading the world in managing the crisis. The roles seemed reversed, with China as the teacher and others as pupils.
Nonetheless, the tables turned as China’s stringent zero-Covid policies backfired economically. While the West swiftly developed vaccines and treatments, China’s isolationist approach left it economically vulnerable. Lockdowns revealed underlying weaknesses, and China’s economy struggled to rebound after abandoning the zero-Covid stance. This downturn exposed the fragility of China’s growth, built on a foundation of rising debt.
While some may see China’s economic troubles as comeuppance, an unstable China could pose greater threats to the West. Therefore, emerging economies like India and Brazil might hesitate to align with China, considering its uncertainties and vulnerabilities.
In conclusion, the expanded Brics group’s peculiar alliances underscore the lack of coherence in the face of conflicting interests. While China’s economic progress is noteworthy, its influence raises concerns for global security and stability. The pandemic highlighted the risks of overreliance on external sources, urging nations to strike a balance between interdependence and self-sufficiency. China’s economic challenges reveal the perils of unsustainable growth built on debt. In light of these dynamics, emerging economies should carefully consider their alliances and partnerships, particularly with a China facing internal and external uncertainties.