A New Journey of BRICS Cooperation: A New Chapter of Human Progress

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

June 22nd to 24th witnessed this year’s gathering of BRICS countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted the 14th BRICS Summit and the High-level Dialogue on Global Development via video link and attended the Opening Ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum via video link as well. Bearing in mind the well-being of the entire humanity, he articulated major concepts and propositions for how BRICS countries could march toward a more comprehensive, practical, inclusive, and closer high-quality partnership. His remarks point the way for joint efforts on a new journey of BRICS cooperation.

I. The BRICS mechanism is a multilateral framework of practical cooperation that is committed to meeting the trend of the times. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the trend of multi-polarity and economic globalization has been experiencing a sea change. Emerging markets and developing countries are now playing an increasingly important role in international affairs, becoming a key force in the changes in the international order, evolution of the international landscape, and innovation of global governance. In this context, the BRICS mechanism was born. In 2006, the foreign ministers of China, Russia, Brazil, and India met for the first time, initiating the original BRIC cooperation. As South Africa officially joined the group making it BRICS, the leaders of five BRICS countries had the first-ever informal meeting ahead of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France in 2011. To date, the leaders of BRICS countries have had 14 summits and nine informal meetings.

Riding the wind and cleaving the waves over the past 16 years, the BRICS mechanism has turned into a core framework of cooperation under three pillars – political and security, economy and finance, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Its institutions include the Leaders’ Summit and ministerial meetings of foreign ministers and security representatives. For these years, BRICS cooperation has made ground-breaking achievements.

In political and security areas, BRICS countries have consolidated strategic partnerships and enhanced communication and coordination on major regional and international issues. We have also worked together to practice multilateralism and defend international fairness and justice, safeguarded international law including the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and forged synergy in improving the global governance system and rules.

In terms of economic and financial cooperation, BRICS countries have launched major mechanisms like the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, formulated the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025, and jointly built the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution, in a bid to make developing economies more resilient. Last year, the New Development Bank initiated its first membership expansion and moved into its new permanent headquarters in Shanghai. It has so far granted $30 billion in loans in total, making an important contribution to the economic and social development of BRICS countries and their response to COVID-19.

As regards cultural and people-to-people exchanges, BRICS countries have been stepping up dialogue and cooperation concerning state governance, political parties, think tanks, culture, education, women, and youth. A variety of associations formed by BRICS countries, including the BRICS Business Council, BRICS Think Tank Council, BRICS Universities League, BRICS TVET Cooperation Alliance, and BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, have served as major dialogue platforms of cross-sector exchanges and stronger consensus on cooperation among BRICS countries.

In recent years, BRICS countries have established the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center, created the BRICS TVET Cooperation Alliance and an aerospace cooperation mechanism, and reached the Digital Economy Partnership Framework. At this year’s BRICS Summit, President Xi Jinping proposed four initiatives concerning the future development of BRICS countries. He calls on BRICS countries to uphold solidarity and safeguard world peace and tranquility, to pursue development through cooperation and jointly tackle risks and challenges, to uphold the pioneering spirit and innovation and unleash the potential and vitality of cooperation, and to uphold openness and inclusiveness and pool collective wisdom and strength. President Xi Jinping’s speech identifies the pathway for upgrading BRICS cooperation and broadens the prospects of BRICS countries’ bigger role and contribution to international affairs. Thus, this year’s summit is a milestone that will inspire the future.

II. The BRICS mechanism is a platform of South-South Cooperation that is committed to seeking strength through unity and common development among emerging markets and developing countries. Accounting for 26% of the planet’s land, 42% of the world’s population, and 25% of the world’s GDP, BRICS countries show a historical trend of the collective rise of major developing countries. Since the BRICS mechanism was born, five BRICS countries have made their objective and impartial voice on major international issues heard. It gives expression to the aspirations of emerging markets and developing countries and attests to the positive, stable, and constructive role of BRICS countries in international affairs.

The BRICS mechanism is an open and inclusive mechanism of international cooperation for win-win outcomes. It is not an exclusive club or clique. Rather, it is a big family of good partners that look out for each other and seek win-win cooperation. BRICS countries have no intention to engage in competition or confrontation with others. Following the path of win-win cooperation, maintaining world peace and stability, and boosting global development and prosperity is what the BRICS mechanism is all about.

In 2017, China proposed the BRICS Plus cooperation, a concept that offers an opportunity for more emerging markets and developing countries to seek cooperation under the BRICS mechanism. This marks a new stage of BRICS cooperation as it is no longer confined to five member countries. To date, six BRICS Plus dialogues have been held during the BRICS summits, with the participation of leaders of the invited emerging markets and developing countries. In this way, BRICS countries are having more friends engaged in BRICS cooperation, offering a vivid example of South-South cooperation in the new era.

In the first half of this year, various BRICS Plus events attracted over 50 non-member countries. Besides the five-member BRICS countries, 13 important emerging markets and developing countries were invited to the just concluded High-level Dialogue on Global Development, which marks one more successful example of BRICS Plus cooperation. What’s more, China actively supports other BRICS countries in advancing the BRICS membership expansion process, believing that with more new members, the BRICS mechanism will gain new vigor and involve a larger group of emerging markets and developing countries in dialogues and exchanges. This will enable us to make the pie of BRICS cooperation bigger and the strength of progressive forces more powerful, thus making a greater contribution to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

III. The BRICS mechanism is a constructive force that is committed to maintaining world peace, fostering global development, and improving global governance. Like our world today is living through drastic changes and the COVID-19 pandemic both unseen in a century, the world is entering a new period of volatility and transformation, with increasing difficulties in economic recovery, emerging major security challenges, and strong headwinds against global development. At this critical juncture, China successfully hosted its third BRICS Summit. Three important speeches delivered by President Xi Jinping during the summit steer the BRICS Summit to a series of pioneering, leading, and institutional achievements, and point to the new mission of the BRICS mechanism.

First, we need to defend justice and fairness and stand up for maintaining world peace. At the BRICS Summit, President Xi Jinping further elaborated on the meanings and practical significance of the Global Security Initiative, making it clear that the international community should reject zero-sum games and jointly oppose hegemonism and power politics, should build a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, should be aware of the fact that we are a community in which all countries share a common stake. His remarks voice the shared aspiration of developing countries for peace and tranquility and their opposition to hegemonism and power politics. This is the voice for justice and peace and also the voice of the times.

Second, we need to stay focused on the development and set the direction for global cooperation on development. At the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, President Xi Jinping called for joint efforts to foster a development paradigm featuring benefits for all, balance, coordination, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation, and common prosperity. To this end, he made four proposals. First, we need to jointly build an international consensus on promoting development.  It is important for us to put development front and center on the international agenda and deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Second, we need to jointly create an enabling international environment for development. It is important for us to build an open world economy and shape a global governance system and institutional environment that are more just and equitable. Third, we need to jointly foster new drivers for global development. It is important for us to promote scientific, technological, and institutional innovation, in order to achieve a stronger, greener, and healthier global development. Fourth, we need to jointly forge a global development partnership.  The North and the South need to work in the same direction to forge a united, equal, balanced, and inclusive global development partnership and ensure that no country or individual is left behind.

Also, President Xi Jinping announced important steps China will take to implement the Global Development Initiative. These include launching the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, increasing input to the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund, setting up a global development promotion center, releasing the Global Development Report, and creating a global knowledge network for development. All these will be China’s contributions to mobilizing worldwide resources for development and accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Third, we need to promote win-win cooperation and devise ways to improve the global governance system. As there is a shift in the global balance of power and global challenges mount, strengthening global governance and reforming the global governance system have become the aspiration of the people and the underlying trend of our times. In this regard, President Xi Jinping stressed the need to stay committed to openness and inclusiveness, eliminate all barriers to the development of productivity, and steer globalization in the right direction; the need to uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system, remove barriers to trade, investment, and technology, and keep the global economy open; and the need to promote extensive consultation and joint contribution to deliver shared benefits, enhance global economic governance, and increase the representation and say of emerging markets and developing countries. This will ensure that all countries enjoy equal rights, follow the rules as equals, and share equal opportunities. President Xi Jinping’s remarks reflect the aspirations of developing countries, chart the course of the reform of the global governance system, and rally strength for global recovery.

One can only travel far by keeping in mind the journey of the past. Focusing on and transcending BRICS cooperation, the BRICS events successfully held by China offer answers to the questions of the world, the history, and the times, leaving an indelible chapter in the history of international relations. On the new journey ahead, China stands ready to join hands with the rest of the world, including other BRICS countries, emerging markets, and developing countries, to carry forward the BRICS spirit and enhance unity and cooperation for win-win benefits. By doing so, we will jointly open a new chapter of human progress and send the world a message of our times – building a community with a shared future for mankind.

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