The Role of China in the BRICS’ Cooperation on Development: Shaping a New And Balanced World Order?

  • Maxwell Zakhele Shamase


This paper interrogates the role of China in the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) cooperation on development with a focus on shaping a new and balanced world order within the theoretical framework of political realism and world system theory. The early twenty-first century has witnessed the growth in economic prowess and the political influence of emerging market nations in the global arena, building on the achievements in south-south solidarity and cooperation of the NAM and G77 and resulting in the emergence of the BRICS platform. In this, China’s role has been principal, giving practical meaning to the rise of the global South in a world system dominated by the global North. It is argued in this paper that China has intensified the coordination of economic, political and social agendas among developing countries broadly, and, in the process, it has stimulated increased trade, investment, foreign policy alignment and people-to-people solidarity. As BRICS call for the democratisation of the inter-state system and oppose Western and US dominance of global governance, China has put measures in place to give effect to this. The decline of Western and United States (US) economic power relative to Asian and other emerging countries lends substantial credibility and international legitimacy to the BRICS’ demands, and China is the epitome of this. Simultaneously, BRICS have retained varying measures of direct or indirect state control over markets, most notably in China. This paper asserts that against the backdrop of waning integration impulses in the developed world, the largest developing economies are forging ahead with new initiatives directed at revitalising regional integration. China, in particular, is building new development institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and mega-regional projects, for example the ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’, as well as new economic alliances across the globe. It could be concluded that the South-South interaction epitomised by China-South African relations on both an economic and political level and by the BRICS grouping, demonstrates that there is a changing distribution of power at the international level.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-641X
print ISSN: 0256-2804