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2021 | Book

The BRICS Order

Assertive or Complementing the West?


About this book

This book examines the direction of the BRICS association. Beginning with historical analyses of the broader Global South and the fundamental composition of the BRICS countries and then moving on to present trends, The BRICS Order evaluates the variables that will influence the association’s future. While the BRICS as a forum emerged as a result of the visible fragmentation of the post-1945 world order, it itself remains dogged by issues emanating from internal divergences among member states and from external factors. The contributors interrogate the extent to which this formation of “emerging economies” is indicative of a challenge to the West, or in fact a complimentary relation. Integral to these studies – which encompass examinations of such diverse areas as governance systems, issues in bilateral relations, security threats, multilateral institution building, the transnational creation and dissemination of knowledge, and technological innovation – are patterns of convergence and divergence which render the countries not a formal alliance, but as signifiers of a multilateral future in which the West is itself to become more heterogeneous and thus become occasionally complemented depending on the vacillating consensus within the BRICS association and on the interests of the BRICS countries at different points in time.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Genealogies, Elements and Implications of a ‘BRICS Order’
The BRICS is composed of countries which, although strategic in their respective regions, differ in power and influence owing to economic size, military capability, skills and level of poverty. The book teases out the nexus between knowledge, politics, technology and economic activity. The contributors explore the emergence and evolution of the BRICS countries in relation to each member, and teases out the place, role and unique contribution of each one of them to the bloc as well as their relations with each other. Chapters highlight the indisputable influence of BRICS in international relations without glossing over inherent challenges that militate against the bloc operating as it should.
David Monyae, Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 2. Autochthonous Routes to Democracy: Assessing the Brics Polities
In reviewing the extent to which the democracies among the BRICS are complementary of the West or asserting their own forms of governance, this chapter assesses the role played by the West in creating their domestic political systems. To varying degrees, it argues, the BRICS countries have proven impervious to the influence of the West in their political systems. Those which are widely regarded as democratic (Brazil, India and South Africa) obtained and retained their democratic dispensations despite and not because of the West. In Brazil, the United States backed a coup against a democratically elected government in 1964; in South Africa, the United States showed a lacklustre stance towards the democratisation movement, and any claims of India’s being a democracy due to the British are inter alia readily dismissed by the fact of Pakistan and Bangladesh, the other components of British India, having had repeated military coups, while the Republic of India has not.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 3. Brics, Brazil and Africa: Economic Potential and Challenges
The first aim of this chapter is to explore the possibilities and challenges for the establishment of a network of economic relations among the BRICS countries and to show that these economic relations are increasing very rapidly, but mainly due to the importance of Chinese trade and investments in the other four countries. The construction of BRICS is fundamental to the quest for a new international order, but it has to deal with the risk of creating (or reproducing) asymmetries within the bloc. First, the chapter discusses the monetary-financial dimension, and then the productive dimension, with a particular focus on Brazil. As a second aim, the chapter presents the economic relations between Brazil and Africa in the recent period, allowing us to analyse the role the BRICS have (or may have) on that continent.
Bruno De Conti, Célio Hiratuka, Arthur Welle
Chapter 4. Ambiguity or Strategic Play? Distilling India’s BRICS Relations
India is the second fastest growing economy in the developing world. It forms part of the coalition of the developing world countries that seek to challenge the current global order and offer less developed countries an alternative to maladies such as underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment. The BRICS grouping, of which India forms part, has grown in stature as evidenced by the establishment—in which India played an instrumental role, and which it chairs—of its New Development Bank. This chapter argues, however, that New Delhi finds itself at crossroads by being in the same group of developing countries as its Asia-Pacific competitor, China. Its participation in BRICS can best be understood as a means of counterbalancing China’s increasing influence and power in Asia. Some scholars detect ambiguity, insofar as New Delhi’s involvement in BRICS is an attempt to challenge the West’s dominance in the world, but in reality, closer relations with the West may be seen as India’s endeavour to, while still is growing, balance China and buy time.
Bongane Gasela
Chapter 5. China, Economic Partnership, Common Development and BRICS
China’s economic rise and participation in the BRICS grouping provides the African continent with a range of new development partners and opportunities unmatched in its postcolonial history. China’s strategic engagement with BRICS offers a unique opportunity to promote a new and innovative development path. BRICS investments and infrastructure development programmes are expected to underpin and promote continued economic growth in BRICS countries through a process of expanded South–South collaboration, policy coordination and economic cooperation. BRICS is expected to be successful to the extent that it accepts and advances China’s national interests for promoting the BRI, and increased trade and global governance reform. If BRICS can accept and embrace China’s concepts of economic partnership and common development, the organisation is expected to prosper and provide the momentum to transform the global political and economic system.
Garth Shelton
Chapter 6. Manna from Heaven! South Africa’s Search for Relevance in the BRICS Constellation
When South Africa originally joined BRICS, it had no palpable strategy towards this new-fangled constellation; it initially responded to the BRICS invitation as a boost to its international ‘prestige’. As time went on, we saw a bit by bit, almost frantic search for a strategy. As it unfolded South Africa started to stress domestic, regional and international rationales which underscored its BRICS participation. It highlighted the potential for massive economic spin-off to be had from BRICS that could boost its ailing economy at home. It further viewed BRICS as a boost to its African leadership aspirations. BRIC members singled out South Africa as a ‘gateway’ to Africa that could help to secure access to the African market during a time of ‘Africa rising’. From the perspectives of geoeconomic, geopolitical and geostrategic calculations, South Africa developed rather bold and ambitious goals vis-à-vis BRICS, viewing BRICS as both a countervailing force in a western-dominated world order, and even regarded BRICS as a potential alternative to the capitalist order that was dominated by the western powers.
Chris Landsberg, Oscar van Heerden
Chapter 7. China–India Strains: Whither the BRICS?
This chapter will unpack the significance of India and China within the BRICS and then delve into the history of the relationship between these two major countries prior to giving an account of some of the ongoing issues and potential flashpoints in the relationship—including boundary disputes, the ongoing tightening of alliances with one another’s rivals, and disparate visions of the world order—and show how it could be argued that they may threaten the bilateral relationship and therefore the BRICS group of which the two countries are so elemental. The chapter details, however, some of the unwritten mechanisms and rules which render the prospects of an open conflict unlikely, despite the key bones of contention between the two regional giants.
Bhaso Ndzendze, David Monyae
Chapter 8. Brics–Africa Cooperation in Perspective: The Case of Kenya
BRICS–Africa relations have aroused interest. This relationship reinforces South-South cooperation and historical ties that, in some cases, predate colonialism. If optimally harnessed, this relation has the potential and capacity to disperse global power, and enhance a multipolar world, restore multilateralism and help Africa overcome its social and economic shortfalls. This chapter argues that this relationship is equally skewed since BRICS’ interests in Africa are basically mercantilist, evidently even in peacekeeping operations and military cooperation. The case of China’s infrastructure investments in Kenya, for instance, is used to highlight opportunities and enormous costs of this asymmetrical relationship primarily because of China’s obvious competitive edge that dovetails with inherent governance deficiencies in Kenya to the detriment of Kenya’s citizens.
Westen K. Shilaho
Chapter 9. African Perceptions of the BRICS: Optimistic, Pessimistic or Pragmatic?
This chapter moves away from most previous analyses that have zeroed in on the Africa–BRICS relations from the perspective of the BRICS as they direct their policies and deal-making towards the continent. Instead, the chapter is interested in perceptions on the BRICS from the continent—an understudied area in the fledgling field of BRICS scholarship and a potential contribution to Afro-based studies. The question that the chapter sheds light on is whether Africans are optimistic, pessimistic or pragmatic in their perceptions of the BRICS and, by extension, what this says about BRICS soft power capital on the continent. These perceptions, potentially leading to an assessment of the image of the BRICS in Africa, are tracked by undertaking a textual media content analysis of two leading business news and analysis publications, the Business Day of Nigeria and Kenya’s Business Daily. Work on media-based African perceptions of the BRICS is necessarily a work in progress. Perceptions differ from one country to another. Indeed, perceptions may differ from one media house to another based on the media platform’s editorial bent, ownership and target audience. In soft power terms, therefore, the BRICS, as a collective, do not have much in the way of capital.
Bob Wekesa
Chapter 10. BRICS and Beyond: Some Principles of Educational Collaboration in the Global South
The chapter is devoted to an analysis of educational collaboration in the global South in general and in BRICS countries in particular. It considers this collaboration in the frameworks of the radical changes higher education is experiencing today, which it marks as ‘global academic revolution’ and the ‘formation of transnational educational capitalism’. The chapter argues that these circumstances give birth to the specific types of North–South university partnerships and to various excellence programmes, oriented towards enhancing the international competitiveness of the universities as measured by international academic rankings. Countries of the global South, however, are more interested in a horizontal type of collaboration, focused upon shared common problems rather than on enhancing competitiveness. In articulating this idea, the chapter critiques the goals of the Russian 5/100 excellence programme and BRICS Network University, arguing argues that BRICS university networks can be considered as models for South-South university collaboration. The rationale for this collaboration, in its turn, is provided by the rethinking of the idea of development and by the plural modernity theory. Combining these two theoretical frameworks will underpin the alternative nature of the BRICS collaboration.
Maxim Khomyakov
Chapter 11. The Global South and Industry 4.0: Historical Development and Future Trajectories
This chapter researches the global transformation of industry towards an innovative, sophisticated, and autonomous technology-driven environment. Emerging markets within the Global South should be committed to calibrate its economic, political, and social structures towards investing in a revolutionised industry capable of transforming socio-economic growth. The chapter studies historical industrial revolutions, and presents research towards skills development for Industry 4.0 through digital transformation in emerging markets. The research contribution of the chapter is evident in its research of technologies, innovations, and tailored policies that emerging markets are encouraged to adopt, to participate and thrive in the incipient Industry 4.0.
Wynand Lambrechts, Saurabh Sinha, Tshilidzi Marwala
Chapter 12. BRICS and Industry 4.0
This chapter researches the challenges and opportunities in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) in integrating Industry 4.0 to transform and grow their local economies. This chapter follows an academic methodology to compare and reviews the skills, policies, and strategies that developed countries have implemented successfully in preparation for Industry 4.0 and how emerging markets can learn from these. The research contribution of this chapter is in identifying and studying challenges that are specific to emerging economies (with focus on BRICS), followed by observed initiatives in BRICS countries that aim to mitigate or overcome such challenges. The changing social, political, and economic fortunes of Africa that can boost economic growth through technology and industrialisation are presented in anticipation of the emergent Industry 4.0 and the contribution of this chapter is to recognise its importance.
Wynand Lambrechts, Saurabh Sinha, Tshilidzi Marwala
Chapter 13. BRICS and FOCAC: Challenging or Supplementing Bretton Woods Institutions?
This chapter addresses the rise of the global South institutions, particularly the New Development Bank and FOCAC, and the global conditions that justify their emergence to join extant development institutions such the World Bank and the IMF. Where does the new wave of foreign and political policy objectives leave developing nations, and African states in particular? If the Bretton Woods institutions are facing more neglect from the founders in favour of their ailing domestic economies, does that leave room for an emerging global financial power to take centre stage? The main finding of our research is that BRICS and FOCAC do not necessarily challenge longstanding international financial institutions that have hitherto been dominated by Western players and influence. However, this might not be the case in terms of individual rivalry or competition, say between the United States (the very embodiment of Western world views) and China (the most influential player of the developing world).
David Monyae, Emmanuel Matambo
Chapter 14. Conclusion
This chapter takes stock of the themes highlighted in the preceding chapters in their totality, while also highlighting emerging areas for further research. Particularly highlighted are research niches around BRICS and climate change, security cooperation, and international human rights norms and transnational justice—all germane topics for consideration for all interested in the extent to which the BRICS are assertive or complementing the West.
David Monyae, Bhaso Ndzendze
The BRICS Order
David Monyae
Bhaso Ndzendze
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