China Successfully Hosts the 9th BRICS Summit and Leads the Way with BRICS Emerging as a Bulwark against Protectionism
By Shafei Moiz Hali
Preparations were high, Xiamen’s asphalt roads were replaced with special roads equipped with noise reduction and environment friendly materials, Bailuzhou Park was furnished with a 3D music fountain with more than 1,000 LED lights, a new convention center was setup utilizing only recyclable materials, postage stamps bearing the logo of the summit as well as the letters "BRICS" and "2017 China" were issued and a lot of hard work was put in to make this event a success.
Chinese President Xi Jinping chairs the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Sept. 5, 2017.[Photo: Xinhua]
The BRICS summit is undoubtedly the biggest international event after the G20 summit as it holds the pulse of international cooperation within the developing world, which is why the theme for the summit is "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future". This year at Xiamen apart from the 5 permanent members of BRICS; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa leaders from 5 more countries were invited to expand cooperation. The five guest countries included Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand. Since the world’s economic growth is still sluggish, security concerns are heightening the world over. Instead of boosting international trade many countries in the world are adopting a protectionist stance, which is exacerbating the already slow recovery of the global economy. The world which was once moving towards becoming a global village, adopting environment friendly policies, border restrictions were being relaxed and globalization was the mantra on which most of the world economies were tuning in to, is now moving in the opposite direction.
The traditional global leaders including USA, are adopting policies like, “America First” which are fanning the flames of protectionism the world over and is creating an environment of uncertainty, with in this trying time China has been busy in support of traditional trade values of globalization and market openness and is raising the confidence of the developing world with its Belt and Road initiative. It is because of such bleak global economic conditions that events like the BRICS summit have gained tremendous importance. The significance of BRICS not only comprises of the leading developing nations but more importantly it consists of developing nations which hold a shared vision of cooperation and with China’s Belt and Road initiative in the mix, it provides the world with hope for globalization and the revival of the global economy. This is the reason why President Xi stated in his opening address at the 9th BRICS summit, “As the world undergoes profound and complex changes, BRICS cooperation has become more important. Our people expect us to jointly boost development and improve their well-being. The international community expects us to make contribution to world peace and common development. We must redouble our efforts to comprehensively deepen BRICS partnership and usher in the second "Golden Decade" of BRICS cooperation.”
The leaders from China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand all attended the 9th Summit of BRICS at Xiamen and as the summit concluded they signed a joint declaration as is customary. The 43-page 'Xiamen Declaration', adopted at the end of the five-nation BRICS summit consisted of efforts made by the countries under the theme of “Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”. The highlights of the declaration included 8 major aspects.
The first important outcome of the summit is China’s massive pledge of $80 million for the cause. Within this pledge President Xi promised to pitch in $76 million for BRICS economic and technology cooperation plan and another $4 million to support the projects of the bloc's New Development Bank.
The next important point highlighted in this year’s summit was that all the leaders agreed to curb corruption and the declaration highlighted that, “intensify dialogue and experience sharing and support compiling a compendium on fighting corruption in BRICS countries.” It was also decided that he BRICS countries will gear up international cooperation to fight corruption and will draw mechanisms on matters related to asset recovery and culprits sought for corruption.
The third significant highlight of the joint declaration pertained to the MoU between NDB and BRICS Business Council, The New Development Bank will now work in tandem with the BRICS Business Council to assist business and trade prospects within the partner countries. This new MoU will ensure that the BRICS Business Council will put forward projects which require support from the NDB.
The fourth highlight of the joint declaration includes the proposal of the BRICS credit rating agency to offset western rating institutions and accommodate the financial requirements of autonomous and corporate entities within the developing world.
Another significant highlight of the joint declaration was targeted towards the rise of protectionism in the world. It has been agreed upon by the leaders of the BRICS nations that they will make efforts jointly to ensure the openness, transparency, and the guidelines of the WTO. It is stated in the declaration that, "We emphasize the importance of an open and inclusive world economy enabling all countries and peoples to share in the benefits of globalization".
As mentioned above that, with the rise in protectionism the world is also witnessing rising temperatures, to combat global warming the BRICS nations agreed that, “We will work together to promote most effective use of fossil fuels and wider use of gas, hydro and nuclear power, which will contribute to the transformation toward a low emissions economy, better energy access, and sustainable development. In this regard, we underline the importance of predictability in accessing technology and finance for expansion of civil nuclear energy capacity which would contribute to sustainable development in BRICS countries. We encourage continued dialogue on the establishment of a BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform and urge relevant entities to continue to promote joint research on energy cooperation and energy efficiency".
The seventh highlight of the joint declaration constitutes the agreements made with regards to agriculture development and cooperation. As all the BRICS nations are developing countries and with looming threats towards food security the members countries agreed that, "We agree to deepen cooperation in the five priority areas such as food security and nutrition, adaptation of agriculture to climate change, agricultural technology cooperation and innovation, agricultural trade and investment, and ICT application in agriculture to contribute to stable global agricultural growth and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. We welcome the establishment in India of the Coordination Center of BRICS Agriculture Research Platform, a virtual network which will facilitate addressing these priority areas."
The final highlight of the joint declaration focuses upon the combined condemnation of the spread of terrorism in the world and within the member countries. The declaration states, “there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable”.
The important thing to take home from this year’s BRICS summit is the fact that China’s initiatives for enhancing inclusiveness for economic prosperity is shared by many and this year’s BRICS summit as well as the G20 summit which was held earlier this year speak volumes of the support China is garnering around the globe, despite the rise of protectionism in the world. This is why the Brazilian scholar Oliver Stuenkel said “the Belt and Road Initiative and BRICS can be complementary, as "the objective of both is similar: set free potential to spur sustainable development to allow societies to overcome poverty and connect to each other." During President Xi’s time as president of a rising China, it is evident how China has been forging new ties and strengthening previous ones and is weaving an international web of interconnectedness, whose strands are made stronger due to the creation of win-win scenarios. Following the same spirit President Xi once again reiterated the importance of healthy trade and partnerships and said at the conclusion of the 9th BRICS summit; “the "BRICS Plus" leaders have agreed on deepening South-South cooperation, fostering the "BRICS Plus" pattern, and building extensive partnerships.” President Xi further explained that, “The summit adopted the BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration which reaffirmed the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and mapped out a new blueprint for strengthening BRICS partnership and deepening practical cooperation in various areas.”
(Dr. Shafei Moiz Hali studied at George Mason University, Virginia, USA and specialized in the field of International Commerce and Policy. He did his PhD from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China specializing in Chinese foreign policy focusing on the Belt and Road Initiative, security issues and energy issues. Currently Dr. Hali is an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Contemporary Studies at the National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad, Pakistan.)