The 13th BRICS Summit was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India. File picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS
The 13th BRICS Summit was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India. File picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Enhance solidarity to add new shine to BRICS

By Opinion Time of article published Sep 17, 2021

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OPINION: We need to promote global solidarity against Covid-19 and build a community of health for all, writes Ambassador Chen Xiaodong.

The year 2021 marks the 15th anniversary of BRICS. The past 15 years have delivered for BRICS-enhanced mechanisms, expansion of areas of collaboration and stronger international influence. BRICS has thus become a model for cooperation between emerging markets and developing countries.

Recently, Chinese president Xi Jinping attended the 13th BRICS Summit. He pointed out that BRICS countries have grown into a crucial force to be reckoned with in the international arena. He also stressed that BRICS countries need to promote true multilateralism, global solidarity against Covid-19, openness and innovation-driven growth and common development. He also put forward initiatives to strengthen BRICS cooperation in public health, Covid-19 vaccines, economic, political and security affairs and people-to-people exchanges.

To enhance BRICS cooperation in a more practical way, China has constantly proposed China solutions, contributed China’s wisdom and demonstrated China’s commitment. This contributes to ushering in a bright future for the BRICS cooperation.

In his speeches both during the BRICS Summit and from his desk this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a collective response to Covid-19. He also noted that it is important to strengthen cooperation and deepen partnerships. This goes to show that China and South Africa have wide common understandings in promoting BRICS cooperation and that our two countries have the determination and commitment to safeguard international equity and justice as well as the common interests of all developing countries.

We need to promote global solidarity against Covid-19 and build a community of health for all.

Addressing the BRICS summit, President Xi Jinping stressed that we need to promote global solidarity against Covid-19, join forces to tackle the pandemic, uphold a science-based approach to tracing its origins, and oppose politicisation and stigmatisation. In addition, he emphasised that we need to enhance coordination in Covid prevention and control, and boost the research, production and equitable distribution of vaccines as a global public good. BRICS countries need to step up to our political responsibility, support each other’s Covid-19 response, share Covid control experience, pursue practical cooperation and facilitate an early launch of the BRICS Vaccine Centre in virtual format.

President Xi further announced at the summit that China had provided more than one billion doses of finished and bulk vaccines to over 100 countries and international organisations and would strive to provide a total of two billion doses by the end of this year. He also proposed that on top of the $100 million donation to COVAX, China would donate an additional 100 million doses of vaccines to fellow developing countries within this year.

Leaders of other BRICS countries highly praised China for its significant contribution to both BRICS countries and global control and prevention against the pandemic. They jointly called for the international community to strengthen solidarity and to follow the path of cooperation to overcome the pandemic as early as possible.

We need to lead the trend and uphold true multilateralism. The international governance system as we know it is undergoing profound changes. Multilateralism, as an important cornerstone of the existing system is being eroded. BRICS countries are representatives of emerging markets and developing countries. It is important that BRICS set an example and serve as a model in practising true multilateralism.

President Xi Jinping pointed out in the speech that BRICS countries need to promote the practice of true multilateralism, adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and safeguard the UN-centred international system and the international order underpinned by international law. President Xi clearly stated his position on major issues concerning the future of human beings, which injected more stability into a world full of uncertainties.

Leaders of BRICS countries have reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and have contributed BRICS’s fair share to maintaining the development and benefits of emerging markets and developing countries.

We need to cooperate sincerely to promote economic development for all. At present, the pandemic is still wreaking havoc around the world. The road to global recovery remains bumpy and tortuous. With 24% of the world economy, 18% of global trades in goods, 13% of world’s trade in service and 25% of all foreign investment, BRICS countries undoubtedly have played and will continue to play a profound role in boosting the recovery of the world economy.

President Xi emphasised that it is important to promote openness and innovation-driven growth to facilitate a steady global recovery. In addition, it is important to uphold the WTO-centred multilateral trading regime, make sure that the latest outcomes of scientific and technological progress bring benefit to all countries, and aim for economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. It is also important to promote common development, be committed to the people-centred development philosophy and fully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He further pointed out that it is important to actively respond to climate change, promote the transition to green and low-carbon development, and jointly build a clean and beautiful world based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. China has proven and will continue to prove that we are a reliable partner for all countries in advancing world recovery and win-win development.

Looking forward, it is important to add new shine to BRICS mechanism. Over the past 15 years of cooperation, we the five countries have enhanced mutual political trust, deepened economic and trade cooperation, strengthened people-to-people exchanges and built three pillars for BRICS cooperation.

President Xi Jinping put forward a series of important propositions in these areas. He stressed the need to earnestly implement the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025, and expand cooperation in trade and investment, technology and innovation, as well as green and low-carbon development. He pointed out that we need to consolidate the BRICS strategic partnership, support each other on issues concerning our respective core interests, and jointly safeguard our sovereignty, security and development interests. We must advance mutual learning as we strengthen people-to-people exchanges.

China looks forward to welcoming athletes from BRICS countries and around the world to show their skills and achieve excellent performance during the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

President Xi Jinping also proposed a host of initiatives including to hold a forum on the development of industrial Internet and digital manufacturing, a BRICS high-level meeting on climate change, a BRICS forum on big data for sustainable development, the BRICS seminar on governance and the BRICS forum on people-to-people and cultural exchanges. He also proposed to open an online training course for media professionals of our five countries and to set up a BRICS alliance for vocational education to organize vocational skills competitions.

As the only African member of BRICS, South Africa has made tremendous contributions to building BRICS, to deepening our practical cooperation and to promoting the reform of the international governance system. Since joining BRICS in 2011, South Africa has taken over as rotating chair and held the BRICS Summit twice. During this period, South Africa has taken the initiative to offer sound advice as well as deliver effective coordination. The efforts have worked to promote the continued growth of BRICS.

In particular, South Africa has since Covid-19 started been actively promoting cooperation in Covid response, jointly meeting economic challenges, working on WHO for Covid-19 vaccines IP waivers and calling for more support from BRICS countries and the international community for Africa’s Covid response and recovery. South Africa has played a great role in BRICS cooperation with Africa. Efforts made by the South African side worked to connect the BRICS agenda with Africa’s development and to promote the partnerships between BRICS countries and African countries.

In the following two years, China and South Africa will take over the BRICS chairship one after another. We believe that with the joint efforts of both China and South Africa and the full support from other BRICS countries, the China Year of BRICS and the South Africa Year of BRICS will both achieve fruitful results, and that BRICS will shine even brighter! Both China and South Africa will shoulder the responsibility as BRICS members for promoting global solidarity, provide BRICS wisdom for the global governance deficit and make BRICS contributions for advancing and maintaining true multilateralism!

* Chen Xiaodong is Chinese ambassador to South Africa.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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