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This week, South Africa is hosting the 10th annual gathering of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).In accordance with President Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream," China has been pushing hard for a relationship of equals vis-a-vis the U.S. And at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year, Xi made his goal of restoring China's great-power status even more explicit.Since 2013, China has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, launched the Belt and Road Initiative and proposed expanding the BRICS into a "BRICS Plus" – with China presumably at its head.By contrast, China is the AIIB's largest shareholder by a wide margin, holding a 26.6 percent stake, compared to India's 7.7 percent and Russia's 6 percent.The AIIB thus exemplifies China – not the BRICS – exercising its own "outside option". The institution is open to developing as well as developed countries alike, and China is at its center.Through the AIIB and the BRI, China is laying the foundation for a new regional and global order.Nevertheless, the other BRICS have an important role to play in legitimating China's "other options".
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