BRICS nations don't like West dominance: Experts

Updated: 2014-07-15 05:37

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington (China Daily USA)

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BRICS nations don't like West dominance: Experts

From left: Thomas Wright, Harold Trinkunas, Tanvi Madan, Bruce Jones, Fiona Hill and Kenneth Liberthal, all from the Brookings Institution, discuss the agenda and implications of the upcoming sixth BRICS Summit to be held in Brazil at a seminar held at Brookings in Washington on July 11. Jones was the moderator. [Photo by Ralph Alswang for China Daily]

It's unusual for pundits at the world's top think tank to come to a unanimous agreement. But panelists who convened at a recent Brookings Institute seminar all believe that the BRICS countries now meeting in Brazil for their sixth summit want a more diversified world where they can have a stronger voice and one that is not dominated by the United State and the West.

Harold Trinkunas, a senior fellow in foreign policy and director of the Latin America Initiative at the Washington-based think tank, said host country Brazil sees the BRICS summit, which starts on Tuesday in Fortaleza, as an opportunity to showcase its achievements in economic and development areas.

"But in a larger sense, Brazil sees BRICS as an opportunity to work with other rising powers to make room for their own interest in the international order," Trinkunas told the seminar on July 11.

Such an opportunity, according to Trinkunas, would create space for alternatives to the present Western international order, in particular through mechanisms such as the BRICS development bank and the contingent arrangement on currency to escape, evade or create alternatives to some of the mechanisms that Western powers traditionally use to exercise leverage and influence over others.

Tanvi Madan, a fellow in foreign policy and director of the India Project at Brookings, pointed out that it's an important first time for India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be on s multilateral stage and also meet for the first time leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

She said India does not see BRICS as a replacement for existing global institutions, but does see it as giving India additional voice and a way to play a supplemental role to existing institutions.

Madan believes India does not believe those institutions are representative and that they function in terms set by the US and the West.

"For India, this gives them greater voice and signals India wants to reform a number of institutions," she said, adding that India has different views on issues such as sovereignty, intervention and sanctions.

"India agrees more (on these issues) with these (BRICS) countries than with the West," Madan said.

Kenneth Lieberthal, a senior fellow in foreign policy and global economy and development at Brookings and a China hand, said China sees BRICS as building greater influence for the non-G7 countries over time.

With all the five BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — as members of G20, Lieberthal believes the kind of relationship building and intensive consultation will allow them to develop talking points ahead of G20

Lieberthal interpreted initiatives such as the BRICS development bank and currency swap fund as "increasing the capacity for emerging markets to do things that aren't fully dependent on the US, Japan and Europe," clearly referring to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which are largely controlled by the US, Europe and Japan.

However, Lieberthal said such initiatives are "not to bring down the current system, but in their term, democratize it more."

Thomas Wright, a fellow in foreign policy and the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings, believes that this summit is probably important despite previous criticism about BRICS, noting that unlike G8, Russia is not excluded.

"So when President (Barack) Obama says the US has succeeded in isolating Russia in the international community, the fact that this BRICS summit is taking place and the agenda for the summit is really evidence on the contrary," he said.

"Russia may be isolated from the West, but has not been isolated from much of the rest of the world," Wright said.

He also described the summit as the BRICS countries showing that they don't want the US and the West to have a monopoly over who gets to play in international order or not. "They don't want a world dominated by the Western powers," he said.