A little more than a decade and a half into the “Asian century”, the epicentre of the global economy has moved from the North Atlantic towards East Asia at an unprecedented pace. As a correlate, China’s growing expansion at global level has been gradually undermining the position of leading regional powers such as Brazil and South Africa. The displacement of their investments and the consequent loss of their regional markets, added to the growth of other medium-sized regional powers through stronger links with Beijing, have damaged both countries prospects of regional leadership. From this perspective, in contrast to the abundant literature depicting China as a great opportunity for Brazil and South Africa, this paper warns that both countries’ regional importance has been diminished in favour of China, which calls the usefulness of the BRICS concept into question.
Key words: China, Brazil, South Africa, regional leadership, South America, Southern Africa
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