Culture ministers from BRICS countries meet in the northern port city of Tianjin on July 6 (XINHUA)
The BRICS mechanism plays the role of a bellwether for developing countries. Unity and cooperation among BRICS members enhance developing countries' rights to be heard and participate in decision-making on global political and economic affairs.
In this era of multipolarization and economic globalization, global economic growth has remained feeble and financial risks have accumulated. BRICS nations have consequently encountered challenges, such as imbalances in economic development and internal divergences. Some Western countries say BRICS countries are faltering, or are even in ruins. This view is based on the Western sense of superiority feeling threatened by the ineluctable rise of developing countries. Some Western countries therefore overstate the shortcomings of BRICS and may even relish it when some BRICS economies suffer slowdowns due to the spillover effect of Western monetary policies.
However, BRICS has matured over 10 years, evolving from a mere concept to a vital platform for major developing countries to conduct exchanges and dialogues in politics, the economy, finance, development and culture. In the process, it has established a framework for multi-layer, multi-area, all-round cooperation. Today, BRICS, with an enhanced cohesive force, represents more than ever the voice and interests of developing countries in international affairs.
The development of the BRICS mechanism meshes with the rise of developing countries and the significantly narrower gap between them and developed Western countries. World history and political and economic patterns have experienced a fundamental change—one that could be considered the most important characteristic and historical trend of the international community in the 21st century.
The five BRICS nations account for 43 percent of the world's population and 23 percent of world GDP. They therefore constitute a major engine of global economic growth, and an indispensable force in overcoming global economic imbalances and propelling integrated development. These emerging economies displayed their significance in global economic growth and governance during the 2008 financial crisis. In the past decade, they have contributed to more than 50 percent of global economic growth—China alone accounting for as much as 30 percent.
BRICS nations command vast domestic and overseas markets, and have immense development potential and ample room for policy maneuver. They now have more voice within international institutions and systems, such as the UN and G20, and more say in dealing with global problems, such as climate change and energy issues. It is no longer feasible to tackle such global challenges without the participation and cooperation of BRICS and other developing economies.
Second, BRICS is one of the most important platforms for global governance today. The group has played a significant role in promoting the transformation of global governance from "governance by the West" to "co-governance by West and East." Moreover, the BRICS cooperation mechanism's innovation of both the concept and model of global governance is expected to improve international order.
A mature, stable and healthy BRICS has now entered a new phase. At the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in 2016, President Xi Jinping emphasized that developing countries' participation in global economic governance does not imply replacement or rejection of the current international governance architecture; rather, it constitutes a long-term process of interaction and complementarity among developing and developed economies. The enhanced BRICS cooperation does not aim to overturn the current international order but to improve global governance by making it adapt to the changing circumstances. Therefore, Western countries don't need to fear that BRICS will build a governance structure outside the current international system.
Third, BRICS will promote and lead the common development of developing countries, which is conducive to long-term, sustainable global economic growth, neutralizing the negative impacts of globalization, and narrowing the gap between rich and poor. Based on their respective resources, they have complemented one another's industrial structures. The multi-level, all-round cooperation that has developed among them is now benefiting a considerable number of developing countries.
The BRICS' New Development Bank (NDB) serves as a platform to enhance the bloc's win-win cooperation with other nations. The bank serves several major
--It enables BRICS to obtain funds for development;
--It realizes financial exchanges, such as currency swaps, among BRICS to expand the capacity of their economies and currencies to withstand global economic turbulence; and
--It provides new financing channels for other developing countries.
In 2016, the NDB announced its first batch of loans and issued its first green bonds, to the applause of developing countries.
The Seventh BRICS Summit in 2015 adopted the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, which reaffirmed that the group would strengthen policy coordination and conduct close cooperation to meet common challenges in such areas as economic development and environmental governance. We are confident that the BRICS Summit this year will provide new impetus for global development and resolve global challenges.
BRICS nations have, throughout their development, attached great importance to poverty alleviation. China has endeavored to eliminate this scourge and made remarkable achievements. Over the past few decades, China has lifted more than 700 million of its population out of poverty. Countries such as India are also working in this regard. The successful experience of BRICS will help enrich the content of South-South cooperation, expand its scope, narrow the rich-poor divide and promote common development throughout the world. Building such a peaceful environment for stable development is patently conducive to safeguarding international justice and equality.
This is an edited version of the article that first appeared in China Today magazine
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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