The BRICS Seminar on Governance in session on November 2 (LUN XIAOXUAN)
Investing over $30 billion in 80 projects, from clean energy to digital infrastructure. Setting up a $10-billion emergency assistance loan facility for COVID-19 control. Approving around $9 billion in loans under this program.
These are a few examples of what the New Development Bank (NDB), a multilateral financial institution established by the BRICS countries--Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has achieved since its debut in 2015.
Zhou Qiangwu, NDB Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, referred to the facts and figures to illustrate the bank's efficiency at a recent seminar. Yet finance is only one area of the multifaceted collaboration among the five emerging economies.
Themed Building Consensus and Confidence for BRICS Cooperation With a Shared Future, the BRICS Seminar on Governance 2021 opened in Beijing on November 2. More than 150 representatives exchanged their views both on site and online.
"The seminar responded to the aspirations of the BRICS countries for economic recovery and accelerating development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It reflected the common desire to deepen the exchange of experience in governance and to further promote win-win cooperation," said Xu Lin, Minister of the State Council Information Office, during the opening ceremony.
The new headquarters of the BRICS New Development Bank in Shanghai, which opened on September 28 (XINHUA)
This year marks the 15th anniversary of cooperation among the aforesaid countries. When addressing the 13th BRICS Summit via video link from Beijing on September 9, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for closer cooperation in response to the changing international landscape.
In his speech, Xi said that over the past 15 years, the five countries have enhanced their strategic communication and political trust in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and equality, respected each other's social systems and paths toward development, and explored a right approach to coexistence among nations.
As a follow-up event of the summit, the seminar was designed to provide intellectual support for BRICS cooperation.
"BRICS countries are large developing countries and emerging economies; we are at a similar stage of development and face similar risks and challenges. How to achieve better and faster development is the common issue we all face," Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said in his opening address.
The purpose of exchanging experiences in governance is to learn from one another on the basis of mutual respect and to develop a path consistent with the distinct national conditions, Sun added.
Du Zhanyuan, President of China International Communications Group (CICG), illustrated with data how the countries in the group have become a combined force to be reckoned with in the international arena. The BRICS nations now account for 42 percent of the world's total population, have increased their share in the global economy from 12 to 24 percent, raised their share in global trade from 11 to 17 percent, and attracted 25 percent of the world's total foreign investment over the course of 13 years, while making great strides in sustainable development and modernization, he said.
Sergio Guerra, Dean of the Rio de Janeiro Law School of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in Brazil, said BRICS emerged as a preferential platform for dialogue and cooperation following the 2008 economic and financial crisis. Additionally, the group developed in response to the harrowing lack of correctness on the part of international organizations in their management of global challenges--first and foremost affecting emerging economies and developing countries. The group's agenda advocates the growing participation of BRICS members in the international decision-making process.
The topic of "multilateralism" proved a recurring theme throughout the ceremony's speeches. "One of the shared values in BRICS is the need to reform the multilateral system. The group represents a powerful coalition of countries," said Busani Ngcaweni, head of the National School of Government in South Africa. He was referring to a statement adopted by the ministers of foreign affairs of all BRICS countries this June on strengthening and reforming the multilateral system.
"The joint statement on reform was a clear message to the rest of the world on the shared values and common purpose of BRICS countries to see a fair, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multipolar international system," Ngcaweni stressed.
A Brazilian receives a dose of a Chinese-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine in Amazonas, Brazil, on January 19 (XINHUA)
Projects and products
From the first meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Brazil, Russia and India in 2006 to the series of BRICS meetings in 2021, the outcomes of BRICS cooperation have witnessed a steady continuum. The mechanism has boosted cooperation in the fields of politics, security, the economy, trade, finance, and cultural exchanges, directed by the meetings of national leaders and supported by consultations between senior officials. This multi-level structure has become an important platform for cooperation between emerging markets.
"The meetings associated with BRICS are very important. Besides the summits, there are several symposia such as the BRICS business forum, legal forum, youth forum, women's forum, and governance forum. They bring much-needed vitality and dynamism to the platform. Aside from their main projects and official outcomes, these forums are an opportunity for people-to-people exchanges, as well as settings to deepen mutual understanding and uncover common interests," Guerra said.
Wang Linggui, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, presented yet another important project in BRICS' joint fight against COVID-19, namely the founding of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center in China in May.
"The center focuses on promoting joint research and experiments on vaccines, as well as the establishment of a joint venture factory, production authorization and mutual recognition," Wang said. "Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and protectionism, BRICS countries have become an important international force that truly practices multilateralism and steers the international order in a more just and rational direction."
Inaugurated in 2017, the BRICS Seminar on Governance reached its fifth edition this year. In order to spread the experiences and understandings of the governance of BRICS countries, the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies (ACCWS), one of the organizers of this year's seminar, has compiled a book, collecting all viewpoints of the last seminar's speakers.
Book launch aside, another central act during this meeting was the signing of the BRICS Governance Joint Research and Knowledge Sharing Initiative. The Beijing-based Oriental Think Tank, CICG and ACCWS, the Institute of Europe under the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Social Sciences of India, the Rio de Janeiro Law School of FGV, and four more research organizations from the various BRICS countries are listed in the first group of the initiative's members.
"The project aims to build a platform for cooperation among BRICS think tanks, promote dialogue, exchange and cooperation, share experiences in governance, and help the partnership go deeper and get more practical," Du concluded.
(Print Edition Title: Consensus and Confidence)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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