Southeast Asia’s Expansion in BRICS: A Positive and Powerful Sign for the Global Order


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BRICS Expansion in 2023

Southeast Asia, a vital region in the Global South, has been absent from BRICS since its inception in 2009. However, in 2023, BRICS expanded to 11 members, including South Africa, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. This expansion signals a significant shift in the coalition’s dynamics.

Malaysia and Thailand Joining BRICS

Malaysia and Thailand have announced their intention to join BRICS, indicating a potential dilution of Russian and Chinese influence within the club. This move marks a critical development in the region’s engagement with global economic and political structures.

BRICS: Coalition of Global East and Global South

It is a coalition that includes the “Global East” (Russia and China) and the Global South, each with distinct interests. The coalition’s purpose is to address gaps and violations in the current U.S.-led global order without being adversaries to the United States.

The Concept of “Hedge-mony”

The Global South prioritizes “hedge-mony,” a strategy aimed at protecting its interests as developing countries rather than seeking hegemony. This approach allows nations to navigate global politics while safeguarding their sovereignty and economic interests.

Thailand and Malaysia’s Strategic Move

Thailand and Malaysia’s decision to join BRICS is framed similarly. Both countries highlight the benefits to their national interests and the opportunity to voice their aspirations on international issues. Thailand’s foreign minister emphasized how BRICS provides a platform for economic openness and sovereignty affirmation, core principles of the coalition.

Strengthening Southeast Asia’s Voice

Southeast Asia’s presence in BRICS strengthens the collective voice advocating for the reform of the international system, a goal that Thailand and Malaysia also desire. This collective voice is crucial in addressing global challenges and promoting a more balanced world order.

The Impact of Great Power Tensions

As tensions between great powers have heightened, secondary sanctions have become a preferred tool in Washington’s strategy. The entry of pragmatic Southeast Asian countries into BRICS could strengthen this trend, offering new avenues for diplomatic and economic engagement.

Sovereignty and International Norms

Southeast Asia’s strict adherence to sovereignty occasionally works against America’s rivals, as seen in the region’s disapproval of Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. This stance underscores the importance of international norms and respect for national borders.

Practicing “Hedge-mony” Amidst Polarization

Despite global polarization and pressures, the Global South, particularly Southeast Asia, continues to practice “hedge-mony.” This strategy allows these nations to navigate the complexities of global politics while maintaining their autonomy and pursuing their development goals.

Concerns for Washington

Washington should be concerned about the growing lack of confidence in its leadership and American primacy. The expansion of BRICS to include Southeast Asian countries could strengthen calls for reform and multi-alignment, challenging the practices of great powers and promoting a more inclusive global order.

A Positive Sign for Global Order Reform

The inclusion of Southeast Asia in BRICS is a positive sign for global order reform. It underscores the increasing ability of the Global South to assert itself in global conversations, advocating for fairer and more equitable international systems.


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