Editor’s Note: This article was distributed by a Chinese government accepted source, but we believe it is worthy of a wider audience because it provides documentation of important ongoing dialogue within top circles in China unavailable elsewhere.
By Xú Bù / Guancha.cn
On the evening of June 23, President Xi Jinping hosted the 14th meeting of BRICS leaders by video. The meeting adopted and issued the Beijing Declaration of the 14th BRICS Leaders’ Meeting.
This is China’s most important main diplomatic event of the year and before the 20th Party Congress, and a major diplomatic event in current international relations.
President Xi pointed out that, looking back at the past year, the new crown pneumonia epidemic spread everywhere, the world economic recovery is tortuous, and peace and security issues have become more prominent. In the face of the serious and complex situation, we have always upheld the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, strengthening solidarity and collaboration, and working together to overcome difficulties. The BRICS mechanism has demonstrated its resilience and vitality, and BRICS cooperation has achieved positive progress and results.
President Xi stressed that this meeting comes at a critical point in the direction of human society. As important emerging market countries and large developing countries, the BRICS countries should be bold and courageous, and inject positive, stable and constructive forces into the world.
In the current international situation, what is the unique role of the BRICS countries in the international political and economic arena? With many different political systems, histories and cultures, and values, how did these five countries manage to come together?
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his speech at the opening of the BRICS Business Forum on the 22nd that BRICS countries are studying the establishment of an international reserve currency in a basket of currencies. How likely is this alternative mechanism, and what are the biggest obstacles?
In addition, in recent years, the “BRICS fading theory” and other murmurs have been heard, and some foreign media have rendered that India will “go to bat for the United States” during the BRICS meeting, and even stall China’s efforts to promote BRICS expansion.
How should we view the above public opinion? The Observer talks to Xu Bu, Secretary of the Party Committee and President of the China Institute of International Studies, on the 23rd.
Observer: When hosting the 14th meeting of BRICS leaders by video on the evening of the 23rd, President Xi stressed that BRICS countries, as important emerging market countries and large developing countries, should be bold and courageous, and inject positive, stable and constructive forces into the world. How do you interpret this? Under the current turbulent international situation, what unique role can the BRICS countries and their cooperation mechanism play in the international political and economic arenas?
Xu Bu: I believe that the BRICS cooperation mechanism can play a unique role in the context of the current international situation, mainly in the following aspects.
First, BRICS countries are the defenders of world peace.
Today, the international community is under a cloud of Cold War thinking and power politics, traditional and non-traditional security threats are emerging, and some countries are seeking to expand their military alliances in pursuit of absolute security, engage in gangsterism, and coerce other countries to choose sides to create confrontation. Obviously, if this dangerous momentum is allowed to develop, world peace and security will face serious threats.
As a major force in the developing world and an important emerging economy, the BRICS countries have a rising influence in international affairs. These countries support genuine multilateralism and oppose hegemonism. As a result, the BRICS countries are increasingly becoming the guardians of world peace and tranquility.
Second, the BRICS countries are fellow travelers in jointly addressing risks and challenges.
At present, the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic and the Ukraine crisis are intertwined and overlapping, the global economic development is encountering increasingly serious difficulties, the global industrial chain and supply chain are in serious disorder, the prices of commodities continue to rise, the international monetary and financial system is more fragile, and the economic and social development of developing countries and emerging market countries are severely impacted.
The BRICS countries are increasingly showing dynamism through mutual cooperation, strengthening supply chains as well as coordination in the production sector, and supporting each other in addressing challenges in areas such as poverty reduction, agriculture, energy, and logistics, as well as becoming important partners for the international community in addressing these traditional and non-traditional security challenges.
Third, the BRICS countries are pioneers in strengthening innovation cooperation.
The current new technological revolution is constantly developing, and the development of new economies such as big data and artificial intelligence has great opportunities, while there are also a few developed countries that try to interfere with the innovative development of other countries and maintain their hegemonic status by engaging in scientific and technological monopolies, blockades and barriers. BRICS countries strive to strengthen mutual cooperation in science and technology by promoting the improvement of global science and technology governance.
This year, the construction of the Xiamen Innovation Base of the BRICS Partnership for a New Industrial Revolution has continued to move forward, with a series of events such as the Industrial Internet and Digital Manufacturing Development Forum and the Sustainable Development Big Data Forum. The BRICS countries have explored cooperation in the network of technology transfer centers, aerospace cooperation mechanisms, talent training in the digital era, and vocational and technical education, in an effort to create a talent pool for innovation and entrepreneurship cooperation.
Fourth, BRICS is a promoter of improving global governance.
BRICS countries uphold the concept of openness and inclusiveness, and strive to promote global governance in the direction of fairness, justice and reasonableness. The BRICS countries are not a closed club, nor are they a small circle of exclusion. China has proposed the “BRICS+” cooperation concept, and this model has continued to deepen and expand, becoming a model for South-South cooperation between emerging market countries and developing countries to achieve joint self-improvement.
Observer: The BRICS cooperation mechanism has gone through 16 years of development. The five countries have many differences in political systems, history and culture and values, and it is normal that there are some realistic differences and even disputes. What do you think are the reasons for these five countries to come together?
Xu Bu: I believe that the BRICS countries have come together for a number of reasons.
First, all five BRICS countries advocate addressing the global governance deficit and making the global governance system more effective.
Second, the BRICS countries share common economic aspirations and all regard economic development as their top priority.
In 2021, the total import and export of goods from BRICS countries reached US$8,549.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 33.4%. China’s total bilateral trade with BRICS countries reached USD 490.4 billion, up 39.2% year-on-year, higher than the overall growth rate of China’s foreign trade in the same period. This underscores the fact that BRICS countries are focused on economic development and all hope to improve the living standards of their people by strengthening mutual economic cooperation, while giving greater impetus to the development of the world economy.
Third, the BRICS countries share some similar or common political ideas, supporting multipolarity in the world, democratization of international politics, and opposing hegemonism and power politics.
Fourth, BRICS countries have different situations in terms of development process, economic level, natural endowment, institutional mechanism, etc., and there are indeed unbalanced development situations, but none of them want these problems to affect mutual cooperation, but advocate mutual integration and symbiosis, and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This has laid a solid foundation for multilateral cooperation among member countries.
Fifth, the BRICS countries want to promote their own “new economy” through mutual cooperation. All five BRICS countries have a good education system and a foundation of scientific and technological research and development, and they all want to seize and make good use of the innovation opportunities brought about by the new round of technological revolution. The strengths of each country in education, technology and human resource development have provided the impetus to expand and strengthen cooperation in areas such as financial support, technology and innovation, energy and environment, and digital industries.
Observer: The summit comes at a time when the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been going on for nearly four months and the U.S. and its allies have launched an unprecedented “sanctions war” against Russia, making India’s position a focus of attention for the U.S., Russia and even the world. Before the BRICS summit, some U.S. media began to speculate that India would “stand up for the U.S.” at the summit and prevent the summit from being “anti-U.S.” What do you think of the accuracy of these predictive reports by the U.S. media? What are your specific observations and interpretations?
Xu Bu: The U.S. media’s report is a complete speculation, which aims to cause disturbance to BRICS cooperation and provoke India’s relationship with other BRICS countries.
In fact, Indian Foreign Minister Su Jaisheng made comments on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and China-India relations a few days ago, which attracted widespread attention. He pointed out that Europe must get rid of the mentality that “Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems”. He believes that it is absurd to link China-India relations with the Russia-Ukraine conflict situation, and neither China nor India needs to be taught what to do.
The Hindustan Times also published an article stating that BRICS has become an important platform for discussion and deliberation on issues of common concern to developing countries, and that BRICS countries have called for reform of the multilateral system to make it more representative and inclusive.
There is no need to be surprised by the U.S. media’s attempts to stir up Sino-Indian relations. This is their long-standing tactic. Because they are afraid that India will become a centrifugal force in the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy. For this reason, they will continue to create or fabricate stories to sow discord between India and China, India and Russia.
Observer: As the rotating chair of BRICS this year, China actively supports the BRICS expansion process. However, some media reported recently that the Modi government will push for the establishment of criteria to increase the number of new BRICS members, thus blocking China’s efforts. How do you see the above issue and how do you think the expansion of BRICS cooperation mechanism and its corresponding mechanism should be established and promoted?
Xu Bu: As the BRICS cooperation mechanism continues to go deeper and deeper, and continues to achieve tangible cooperation results, BRICS cooperation has become more and more influential internationally, and many developing countries want to join this mechanism.
It is clear that the BRICS+ model of cooperation meets the economic development needs of the five BRICS countries and the needs of those countries outside the BRICS that wish to join the mechanism. From this perspective, there is a practical need for the BRICS+ model to be institutionalized.
Of course, any organization has its own constitution and requirements. Therefore, the expansion process of the BRICS cooperation mechanism must also be a steady and orderly way to move forward. In this process, it is normal for BRICS member countries to put forward some ideas on how to expand their membership, with the aim of making this cooperation mechanism stable and far-reaching.
I noticed that the media reports in question quoted an unnamed person in India. There are so many officials and researchers in the BRICS countries, as well as the general public, who will certainly have many different voices about how the BRICS cooperation mechanism should be developed. In such a process, we need to look at different views objectively and rationally.
At the same time, we should find the best way to expand the BRICS mechanism through frank and effective communication among the five countries. And those who smear the BRICS mechanism and interfere with the process of BRICS development by speculating or even inciting some personal views, or even provoking the relations among the five BRICS countries as a result, are malicious in their intentions.
Observer: On June 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a video message at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum. He said, “Together with our BRICS partners, we are developing a reliable alternative mechanism for international settlements. We are studying the possibility of establishing an international reserve currency based on a basket of currencies of BRICS countries.” As you know, the recent “Ruble Settlement Decree” issued by President Vladimir Putin has had a significant impact on the international monetary payment system. Against this background, what is your interpretation of President Putin’s above-mentioned message? How likely do you think it is? And what are the biggest obstacles?
Xu Bu: I believe that this issue should be viewed from two perspectives.
On the one hand, it is a general trend for BRICS countries to strengthen financial cooperation among themselves. The total economic volume of BRICS countries accounts for about 25% of the world, and their total trade volume accounts for about 18% of the world, and their contribution to world economic growth has reached 50% in recent years. I note that the BRICS New Development Bank has approved and provided financial support for more than 80 projects, with a total loan amount of more than $31 billion. With the deepening of economic and trade cooperation among BRICS countries, the financial cooperation among them is also showing a new momentum.
On the other hand, we also need to see that there are still quite a lot of difficulties to be overcome and many issues to be studied by BRICS countries in order to truly establish a reliable alternative mechanism for international settlement.
Observer: In recent years, there have been a lot of voices about BRICS in the US and some European countries, such as “BRICS fading theory”, “BRICS collapse theory” and “BRICS clear talk”. What do you think of these voices? How do you think the BRICS countries are capable of sustainable economic development? What are the key areas for mutual cooperation in the future?
Xu Bu: The so-called “BRICS fading theory”, “BRICS collapse theory”, “BRICS clear talk” and so on are using a “sour grapes mentality “in looking at the BRICS mechanism.
We should be very clear that the United States and some European countries are used to looking at the achievements of developing countries in various economic and social fields through tinted glasses. We will not forget that in the past few decades, the so-called “China collapse theory” has made its appearance and, not surprisingly, has failed time and again. These countries are not optimistic about the prospects of BRICS development, essentially because they simply do not want the BRICS mechanism to achieve fruitful results and are not willing to see the sustainable development of the BRICS economies.
After 16 years of development, the BRICS mechanism has formed a “three-wheel drive” cooperation structure of political security, economic, trade and financial resources, and humanities exchanges. In the future, the key directions of BRICS cooperation can be summarized as follows: first, to promote agricultural development in the five countries and contribute to the global goal of poverty eradication and zero hunger; second, to promote trade and investment and sustainable development in the five countries and play a leading role in global sustainable development; third, to strengthen cooperation in the field of science and technology innovation and create a talent pool for strengthening cooperation in innovation and entrepreneurship; fourth, to strengthen cooperation in the field of finance; and fifth, to strengthen cooperation in humanistic exchanges. cooperation in the field of humanistic exchanges.