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Countries are clamoring to join BRICS group, South Africa says, as Russia takes up leadership

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Hong Kong CNN —

Nearly three dozen countries are seeking entry into the China and Russia-backed BRICS economic group, member state South Africa said Wednesday, weeks after the body expanded its membership for the first time in more than a decade.

Thirty-four countries have submitted an expression of interest in joining the bloc of major emerging economies, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told reporters, without naming the nations.

Russia was accepting those applications after assuming rotating chairmanship of the group this year – and will be the first member to oversee the body since it significantly expanded its global footprint at the start of the year, when Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ethiopia, and Egypt formally joined.

The growing membership is widely viewed as a win for China and Russia, which have sought to reshape an international system they see as unfairly dominated by the United States amid growing frictions with Washington and the West.

BRICS, which since 2011 had been made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, roughly positions itself as the Global South’s answer to the Group of Seven (G7) major developed economies.

China has been a key driver of its expansion as leader Xi Jinping pushes an alternative world order, forging closer partnerships with key global players from Russia to the Middle East and strengthening international bodies where Beijing holds sway.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping addresses leaders during the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last month.

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