By Chen Xiaodong
On November 17, President Xi Jinping attended the 12th BRICS Summit via video link and delivered an important speech.
At present, Covid-19 continues to spread and rebound around the globe, posing a threat to the lives and health of people in all countries, plunging the world economy into a deep recession and accelerating the evolution of the international landscape.
At this critical juncture, this year’s BRICS summit has drawn much attention, with its significance greater than ever before and impact reaching far and wide. Since its inception, the BRICS mechanism has undergone the trials and tribulations of international changes, travelling an extraordinary course of development. In the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit, BRICS countries have done their utmost to overcome the impact of Covid-19 this year.
By advancing co-operation in various areas under our co-operation framework underpinned by economic, financial, political and security co-operation and people-to-people exchanges, the BRICS have become an important leading force in upholding international fairness and justice and promoting global governance.
BRICS countries have jointly responded to Covid-19 in solidarity. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, BRICS countries have strengthened public health co-operation, provided timely assistance to each other, shared experience and strengthened joint prevention and control, which has strengthened the confidence and resolve of all parties in the common battle against the virus and demonstrated the responsibility and commitment of BRICS.
The BRICS countries held two Foreign Ministers’ Meetings this year. They supported setting up a BRICS rapid response mechanism to Covid-19, and called for increased support for World Health Organization and joint efforts to build a community of health for all. The BRICS New Development Bank had set aside $10 billion (R154bn) in emergency assistance loans for BRICS countries’ response to the pandemic.
In response to the global spread of Covid-19, China is stepping up co-operation in vaccine research and development with its BRICS partners and advancing the establishment of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre. China is joining hands with South Africa and other African countries in the fight against the virus and is actively exploring vaccine co-operation to support their efforts to bring the virus under control at an early date and ultimately defeat it.
BRICS countries have been a driving force for economic recovery. In the first golden decade of BRICS cooperation, the GDP of BRICS countries combined has grown by 179%, total trade by 94% and urban population by 28%, giving more than 3 billion people a full sense of fulfilment.
The BRICS countries have become an important engine of world economic growth. In the face of Covid-19, the BRICS countries have strengthened macroeconomic policy co-ordination and actively engaged in post-Covid-19 economic co-operation, injecting more impetus into global economic recovery.
China is ready to work with South Africa and other BRICS partners to deepen international co-operation, and especially to support African and other developing countries in overcoming economic hardships posed by the pandemic, alleviate debt burden and better achieve post-Covid-19 economic recovery and development.
BRICS countries have been committed to improving global governance. BRICS countries have always been committed to multilateralism and mutual benefit, and opposing unilateralism, protectionism and bullyism. It has strengthened the cohesion and solidarity of BRICS.
The BRICS countries have collaborated within the UN and other major multilateral mechanisms, contributing BRICS wisdom and solutions to the political settlement of hot spot issues, the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, poverty alleviation, sustainable development in Africa and other regions.
In the face of the complex and grim international situation and challenges, it is important for the BRICS countries to follow the important consensus reached at the summit, continue to strengthen solidarity and co-operation, firmly uphold the central role of the UN in international affairs, promote reform and improvement of the global governance system, and increase the representation and say of developing countries, African countries included, in international affairs.
Since joining BRICS, South Africa’s trade volume with other BRICS partners has grown rapidly. As South Africa’s strongest BRICS partner, China’s bilateral trade volume with South Africa reached $42.46bn last year.
China’s cumulative investment in South Africa exceeded $25bn, creating more than 400000 local jobs. South African statistics show that in the first nine months of this year, China-SA trade volume accounted for 15.44% of South Africa’s total foreign trade, with the ratio continuing to rise.
Other BRICS members have offered full support for South Africa in hosting two BRICS Summits and making the fourth industrial revolution and inclusive growth the topics of the Johannesburg Summit. They also supported South Africa in hosting the first ever BRICS Outreach Dialogue with African Leaders, and establishing the New Development Bank’s Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg in 2017.
At the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in September this year, other BRICS members echoed South Africa’s concern about the security situation and continuing armed conflicts in Mali and other parts of Africa, and called for international support for regional and subregional initiatives aimed at strengthening peace and security in Africa based on the principle “African solutions to African problems”, as articulated by Africans themselves.
They further commended the AU’s commitment to promote the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative, and underscored the importance of an enhanced partnership between the UN and the AU in the area of international peace and security.
As the only African member of BRICS, South Africa is not only an important participant in, contributor to and beneficiary of BRICS cooperation, but also an important bridge for further co-operation between BRICS and Africa.
The BRICS mechanism is receiving increasing attention and importance on the African continent.
Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, and the African Continental Free Trade Area is going to kick off.
Not long ago, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China adopted the Recommendations for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.
The plenary proposed that China will act on new development philosophies, foster a new development paradigm and work for high-quality development. This will bring new opportunities for South Africa and Africa to realise their development goals and inject fresh impetus into BRICS co-operation.
It is believed that the 12th BRICS Summit will further cement the BRICS Strategic Partnership, and lead the way for the international community to strengthen solidarity and co-operation against the difficulties of the time, so as to send out a strong signal of supporting multilateralism, safeguarding international fairness and justice, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
* Chen is the ambassador-designate of China.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.