Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 21.2020
2020.05.18 — 2020.05.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Can India, China Manage Their Ties Within BRICS, SCO Despite Their Competitive Relationship? (Могут ли Индия и Китай управлять своими связями в рамках БРИКС и ШОС, несмотря на свои конкурентные отношения?) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion

New Delhi (Sputnik): India and China might not be in a head-on conflict, but both countries have launched a diplomatic offensive in the region by supplying medical aid to the countries of South Asia. However, the two-week border stand-off between the two neighbours has raised questions, such as how long they will be able to maintain peace?

In the absence of clear demarcation along one of the world's longest land borders (4,000km), intermittent face-offs take place between Indian and Chinese troops, the Indian army claimed, following a clash which left 11 injured from both sides in the Sikkim sector.

Ever since, Beijing and New Delhi have called for bilateral talks to avoid complicating the situation. "We urge India to meet China halfway, avoid taking actions that may complicate the border situation, and create favourable conditions for the development of bilateral relations and peace and stability of the border area. The two sides have been in diplomatic communication over the border issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian had said last week.

Meanwhile, the speculation about a link between border tensions and the Indian government's plan to lure business out of China has been dismissed. The Indian Army chief has also said that the border face-offs have no connection with any domestic or international situation. However, India and the US last week discussed the possibility of moving supply chains away from China. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar the fallout of the pandemic on the US economy and its over-dependence on "one country".

Along with these development, China has been actively helping Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the South East Asian countries with medical aid to fight the pandemic. China is using the COVID-19 outbreak as an opportunity to carry out the Health Silk Road initiative, proposed in 2017 to the WHO, to increase its presence across Asia.

The Indian government has launched its Mission SAGAR to provide medical assistance in countries like the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros to counter Chinese health diplomacy.

While all these issues continue to hover over India-China relations, India's former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal has answered several questions on the future of the two neighbouring countries.

Sputnik: What are the relations between India and China like at present? Are they bad, considering the recent developments?

Kanwal Sibal: India-China relations continue to be based on collaboration, competition and confrontation. We collaborate in the Russia-India-China dialogue forum, the BRICS (which also includes Brazil and South Africa) and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation). We have some shared interests in global climate change and energy issues, as well those of reform of international political and financial institutions. India is a founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank. China is one of India's biggest trade partners in goods. China has also invested in some key areas of the Indian economy: power, telecommunications, mobile telephony, digital payment platforms etc.

As the two largest Asian countries, there are aspects of a competitive relationship. China seeks to be the principal power in Asia and competes with India in its neighbourhood. There is sharpened political, economic and security competition between India and China in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and in the Indian Ocean in general. India's neighbours play the China card against India with China's encouragement. China's rapid inroads into Africa and the Gulf countries, where India has a strong presence, has given a competitive edge to India-China ties.

Sputnik: Where do India and China stand with regard to the border dispute, especially in light of the current stand-off, which has been the longest since Doklam?

Kanwal Sibal: Regarding areas of confrontation, China is aggressive in its territorial claims over Indian Territory. The two militaries confront each other on the Himalayan border, with occasional serious incidents such as in the Doklam area. China's policies towards Pakistan are confrontational towards India. China is Pakistan's biggest defence partner. China uses Pakistan as a proxy against India. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor violates India's sovereignty. China opposes India's membership of the NSG. It has attempted recently to inscribe the Kashmir issue on the UN Security Council agenda. It shields Pakistan on the issue of terrorism directed by the latter against India.

Sputnik: Countries like Russia, which share good relations with both India and China, will they have to choose one over the other if the crisis escalates?

Kanwal Sibal: Just as India has a strategic interest in maintaining close ties with Russia, the latter too has reciprocal interest in India. India-Russia ties remain on solid footing. Russia has no need to choose one country over another, as it can have independent relations with both. Russia would not want to put all its eggs in the China basket in Asia, as that will increase its dependence on China and weaken its global role. India is already the fifth largest economy in the world, with strength in many economic sectors, apart from its human potential. Russia cannot ignore this.

Sputnik: How will the two countries be dealing with each other in multilateral platforms like BRICS and SCO?

Kanwal Sibal: BRICS will collapse without India. The SCO without India will lose much of its salience as a grouping of land-based Asian powers. India and China can mange their ties within BRICS and SCO in areas where there is scope for collaboration.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
Origin of the Problem of Multilateralism is Retreat of United States - Media Adviser to Ex-Indian PM (Возникновение проблемы многосторонности связано с отступлением США - советник по СМИ индийского экс-премьера) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, quotation

New Delhi (Sputnik): Countries across the globe are coming together in the fight against COVID-19 and multilateral platforms on an economic, regional and global basis remain relevant. Despite this, there are growing question marks over the efficacy of such platforms to deal with the crisis.

From global multilateral platforms like the United Nations, World Health Organisation and the G7 to regional cooperation organizations like the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and economic groups like BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), all member nation countries' foreign ministers, heads of state and bureaucrats have been holding meetings ever since the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe.

The member states have been seeking to find a way to deal with the pandemic which has infected 4,823,479 people globally and claimed 318,857 lives, according to John Hopkins University.

Sanjay Baru, an official spokesperson and media adviser to the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, talks to Sputnik about the problems with multilateral platforms.

Sputnik: Several multilateral platforms are coming forward to address the health crisis that has emerged with COVID-19 across the globe. How are these conference calls relevant to dealing with the crisis?

Sanjay Baru: Multilateralism has not been able to address any of the challenges that we face these days. Look at the United Nations (UN). It has not been able to resolve any issue either in Italy, South Asia or anywhere in the world. The UN Security Council has not been able to resolve any issues. Then we have non-political kind of multilateral platform like the WTO (World Trade Organization) which has been virtually paralysed for at least 5-6 years, maybe more than that. Ever since the 2009 financial crisis.

These organizations are mainly there because they are there. It's the bureaucracy that has a vested interest; everybody working under these organizations wants the organization to continue. Now the only area where multilateralism has been able to help the member countries is in finance. Both the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank have been lending money. Even they are getting marginalized because the money that they have is not adequate, member countries have not given them enough money. Second, rival organizations have come-up like the Chinese Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is competing with the IMF.

Sputnik: What are the reasons for the crisis of multilateralism? How does India benefit from such platforms?

Sanjay Baru: There is variety of reasons multilateralism has been in crisis. Multilateral institutions have not been able to address issues. Take global challenges like climate change, very little success has been registered there, mainly because the United States is not willing to adhere by any of those agreements. Similarly, in the WTO (World Trade Organisation), the US is unwilling to nominate adequate numbers of staff for the WTO to function. Their resolution mechanism has not been functioning.

The origin of the problem of multilateralism today is the retreat of the United States. Over the last decade, the US has been reducing funding from the UN. To every multilateral organization, the US is saying 'I don't have money. I am going to cut funds'. The US withdrawal from global affairs has partly contributed to the decline of multilateralism. Partly it is the tensions between the US and China, as China is becoming assertive, but since it is not getting enough power in existing organizations, it is creating its own organizations. The Chinese wouldn't have started the Asian Infrastructure Bank if the IMF had given them adequate voting rights.

Both these phenomenon have fundamentally changed multilateralism. A country like India has a lot of interest in multilateralism because we are a small country. We are not as powerful as United States or as rich as China. We neither have money, now power, so we want a forum where we can get our opinion across. Countries like India are interested in multilateralism but the powerful are not.

Sputnik: How beneficial are the regional cooperation platforms? How are they helping member countries during the crisis?

Sanjay Baru: With regionalism, different parts of the world experiences are different but the European Union (EU) has gone through a major crisis with Brexit. An important member leaving has shaken up the EU but nevertheless, Germany and France are able to keep the EU together. But if you look at the record of the EU for last 10 years, they are the in the European financial crisis 2010-11. Greece was in trouble, Spain was in trouble, Italy was in trouble, France was in trouble. How much has the EU been able to do, not much!

Then comes ASEAN, it has become a divided house between pro China countries like Laos, Cambodia and strong anti-China countries like Vietnam and to some extent Indonesia.

SAARC has become completely dysfunctional ever since India said that unless Pakistan stops terrorism, there is not point even in talking. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a meeting with SAARC over COVID-19 that didn't go anywhere, so after one meeting, they gave it up.

Sputnik: What is the current scenario? What is the future of these organizations?

Sanjay Baru: A lot of activity at the international level is happening at the bilateral level or in new groupings. Recently, there was a dialogue between six countries on COVID-19 — the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Brazil and Japan. It's an odd kind of group, there is no formal organization. But the foreign ministers of the six countries had a conversation. The common thing between them is they are all worried about China.

WHO is having a meeting where 62 countries have signed saying that China should be more transparent. Within WHO, pro China, anti China has become an issue. China in some ways is dividing a lot of these organizations.

Sputnik: The New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS has disbursed a $1 billion emergency loan to India. What is the significance of such lending among countries?

Sanjay Baru: They (Banks of multilateral organizations) are all lending money. The countries which have a surplus of dollars are putting money into some of these banks. The United States for a long time was willing to put a lot of money into the IMF or into the World Bank. They were lending to developing countries but the money comes with conditionality, with certain policy implications, and that have to be implemented.

The United States started losing interest in the World Bank and the IMF. In the meanwhile, China has come up and funded the Asian Infrastructure Bank. Even the so-called BRICS bank is lending money. It is an odd kind of bank in which, of five countries, three of them are poor – Brazil, India and South Africa – Russia is in between and China is the main country with some money.

India has been a reliable borrower. It has never not repaid its debt. India's reputation as a borrower is still good, unlike many other developing countries, which have at one time or another defaulted on payments. Therefore, banks lend to India.

Sputnik: Will we see the end of some of these organizations as they remain in crisis?

Sanjay Baru: Nothing comes to an end, they become inactive, and meetings are not frequent. Then suddenly something happens. There is something called APEC – Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. When was the last time that the APEC met? There was a time when APEC was a big deal and it used to meet regularly. The US President used to go there. So APEC was a very active organization.

Same thing has happened with BRICS, when it started, every meeting was very profile. Slowly they started reducing the number of meetings. So many of these organizations, nobody closes shop, partly because bureaucracy comes into play. Every organization has a secretariat or people who are working and they like to perpetuate the organisation.

There is an SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu, and SAARC has not met for how long and there is a secretariat. What are they even doing, they are all drawing salary. There is also the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and they have a secretariat in Mauritius.

A lot of these organisations continue on paper. Whenever countries find it useful, they suddenly revive them; there is some summit, meeting, or issue that they want to address.

Sputnik: Can we expect to see reforms in these organizations?

Sanjay Baru: Reform issues have been addressed. Each of these organizations have set-up committees, on UN reforms there are reports, on WTO reforms there are reports, on WHO reforms there have been reports. Each of the organizations have done their soul searching but a lot of the reform focus has come because the US said I am cutting down the budget. Partly reforms are being pushed due to a lack of funds and partly because of countries like India and China saying our role should be increased. Membership pressure is increasing. Some of the issues have been addressed but not all.
Is It Necessary to Have Global Organizations? BRICS Case (Нужно ли иметь глобальные организации? Пример БРИКС) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance
Auhtor: Nivedita Das Kundu

For BRICS to stay as a relevant global organisation, it needs to make better use of its organisational strength and structure. For BRICS to maintain its relevance, it needs to harden its stance on tackling critical situations like the pandemic, that is presently causing enormous global problem, writes Valdai Club expert Nivedita Das Kundu.

Global organizations are fundamentally essential for diplomacy. Global organizations can find common solutions to complex problems. The role of global organizations is to help in setting global agenda, facilitate cooperation and coordinate among the member nations. Global organisations try to share responses and challenges between the member states. However, today in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain global organisations that were created decades ago have come under harsh criticism for failing to provide coherent response caused due to COVID-19. In recent time, the COVID-19 pandemic that is harming the world population by bringing the public health into crisis along with the possibility of economic crisis across the nations. Global organisation need to reassess the situation on the present threats to reconsider how they can be tackled. Today, many global organisations are not capable of taking decisions in a comprehensive manner and the negotiations between the member nations takes up longer time and the question of cost, political interest and range of other issues comes up and makes it hard to produce any concreate decision. The trouble with these global organisations coming up in harmonising the interest between the member nations, creating difficulty to go forward with the cooperation and collaboration.

The BRICS countries is a grouping acronym that refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa. The BRICS groups demonstrates how geographically distant countries with different social and economic challenges can become partners and generate a convergence that changes the axis of international politics. However, in case of BRICS, the response on COVID-19 has not been good. Even convening the meeting between the member states during the pandemic through video was difficult and to produce any concrete decision on fight against COVID-19 could not happen. Most of the BRICS Nations has taken actions to fight COVID-19 pandemic of its own. Since BRICS is an important global group, which was supposed to be the intersection of South-South cooperation, the lack of initiative to tackle the important issue like present COVID-19 pandemic, caused a concern. BRICS seems to have diverted from its path of achieving the intended goal of cooperation between the member nations. For BRICS to stay as a relevant global organisation, it needs to make better use of its organisational strength and structure. For BRICS to maintain its relevance, it needs to harden its stance on tackling critical situations like the pandemic, that is presently causing enormous global problem.

BRICS was formed around 12 years back looking into the potential of the group as the intersection for South-South cooperation, provided an alternative to the existing security paradigm. BRICS aim was to take this cooperation forward on the basis of openness, solidarity, mutual understanding and trust and for promoting peace, security and development in a multi-polar, inter-dependent and increasingly complex, globalizing world. The BRICS grouping aims to remain engaged with the BRICS community, supporting the ideas when former Goldman Sachs economist Jim ONeil came up with the concept of BRIC in 2001. South Africa officially acceded to BRICS in 2011, during a summit in the city of Sanya, China. The 11th BRICS summit in Brazil offered a good opportunity to assess the journey of BRICS in its first decade and the 12th BRICS summit in 2020, will be hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, global organization like BRICS needs to move forward and make itself ready for the present environment and tackle the present challenges than what it was, when formed decades back. In all the BRICS nations health inequity has become a prominent factor as there is a huge population in some BRICS nations who all lives below poverty line. Although overall life expectancy has improved in BRICS nations, noncommunicable diseases have increased significantly. Also there has been significant increase in injuries linked to road accidents, as well as increase in the diseases associated with air and water pollution. Cooperation within the BRICS has the potential to bring global changes in health sector and make a positive contribution to the world population. However, it will be important to strengthen the cooperation and their ability to move beyond the declarations and make them into a concrete health policy actions. BRICS should work for achieving universal health coverage for their citizens and that should include the expanded vaccine coverage too. It is very important to address the health concerns, otherwise, in the coming time the health inequity will have serious consequences for BRICS Nations.

Global organization like BRICS have a role to play during COVID-19 pandemic. BRICS member states should expand medical cooperation and unite in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Russia and India being close strategic partners and members of G20, SCO and BRICS have been closely coordinating with each other and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russias President Vladimir Putin had spoken to each other on March 25 and discussed the ongoing global crisis. It is important to look into the system of global organisations internally and revise as per the requirement. In recent times, even the notion of security has changed, BRICS should not only consider the economic security factors, but it is also important to look into health security or pandemic security matters, as these are all significant security aspects. As a global organization BRICS should also consider the security concerns that are not conventional, but needs to look into these matters from the perspective of the 21st century compatibility. If the global organisation like BRICS has to be 21st century compatible, then there has to be adequate coordination among the member nations. Today, the nature of challenges has changed from the traditional definition. Therefore, global organisations needs to adjust to these new constrains. When Cold War ended there was an attempt to bring certain countries together through global organization and groupings and that worked well. Similarly, today, the world is changing and there is a need to look into things practically rather than sticking with the pre-defined and pre-determined notions.

Reference: Inputs taken from conference proceedings, government reports and internet sources.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

COVID-19 Hits Hard, but Challenges BRICS (COVID-19 это проблема, бросившая вызов БРИКС) / Canada, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, covid-19

By and large, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) since it was declared late January by the World Health Organization (WHO). It allegedly originated (yet to be proved) from Wuhan city in China. However, the World Health Assembly has agreed to launch an investigation into the origin of the disease, whose unyielding march across the globe since last year and has already left more than 320,000 dead. It has shattered nearly all economies.

In the world including BRICS countries, the outlook remains bleak. Statistics made available as at May 20, showed that Brazil (113,000) in South America, Russia (317,554) in Eastern Europe or compared to, say all the former Soviet republics, India (106,000) and China (82,965) both in Asian region, and South Africa (17,200) in Africa. It means South Africa, with a population 57 million, has one-fifth of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa.

Further, assessing BRICS countries population in relation to the number of infections, Russia seems to the worse spot, the second highest in the world and that was followed in the third position by Brazil. Under a "pessimistic scenario", the number of active cases could peak again when the expected "second wave of coronavirus" sets in if strict precautions are ignored.

Russia's Health Ministry held, on May 7, a meeting of BRICS countries via videoconference focusing, particularly, on the issue of the novel coronavirus pandemic discussed joint efforts needed by BRICS countries. It was held within the framework of Russia's BRICS chair-ship.

Participants from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa discussed at the meeting all aspects, including measures on liquidation of the novel coronavirus infection, and submitted report to BRICS Health Ministries.

"It is planned that the online platform will provide partners with an opportunity to share BRICS countries' experience and develop joint steps towards reaching a better understanding of the ways to liquidate the COVID-19 outbreak," according to the report.

Under an "optimistic scenario", the BRICS meeting held May by Health Ministers of BRICS countries would adopt collaborative steps contributing toward the eradication of the global pandemic.

BRICS has to accelerate the implementation of some of its earlier initiatives. Over the years, the BRICS has wanted to expand cooperation in the fight against infections and the joint production and use of vaccines. Cooperation on countering infectious diseases has long been a priority for BRICS. For instance, the final declaration of the 2015 BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, contains instructions by the leaders to work on managing the risk of disease outbreaks.

That declaration stated: "we commend the efforts made by the BRICS countries to contribute to enhanced international cooperation to support the efforts of countries to achieve their health goals, including the implementation of universal and equitable access to health services, and ensure affordable, good-quality service delivery while taking into account different national circumstances, policies, priorities and capabilities."

Last month for instance, BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs /International Relations held a video conference chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Ernesto Araújo, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and South African Minister of International Relations Grace Naledi Pandor took part in the meeting.

China and Russia have strong working relationship and both are members of BRICS. Russia objects to attempts by the United States to turn the World Health Organization (WHO) into a forum for settling political scores, Minister Lavrov said with colleagues during the video conference of BRICS Foreign Ministers held late April. Russia has been working closely together with China, and Russia has no reason to oppose China, according to Minister Lavrov.

Key Highlights from that meeting included:

- The BRICS nations agreed to allocate $15 billion to the New Development Bank (NDB) so that it could set up a special loan instrument to support the revival of economies and help meet the emergency expenses incurred for responding to the coronavirus pandemic.The BRICS nations further held discussions on ways to step up cooperation within the bloc to contain coronavirus pandemic, as well as to revive the economies that have received a major blow due to the travel restrictions and lockdown imposed in most countries to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The meeting underlined the need for reforms in the multilateral systems and stated that this was the way forward. The bloc reiterated its support towards the World Health Organization, stating that it is a very important and unique platform, which employs the best professionals from around the world, including from the United States.

- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on all the BRICS members to firmly stand by multilateralism, by the international system centered around the United Nations and by the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Throughout 2020, – under the theme "BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth" – Russia holds the BRICS pro tempore presidency. The emphasis of the Russian presidency is on promoting science, technology and innovation and digital economy and health, and strengthening cooperation in the fight against transnational crimes. In addition to those, dozens of academic, sporting, cultural and artistic events planned for the year.

BRICS is the group composed by the five major emerging countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, – which together represent about 42% of the population, 23% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 30% of the territory and 18% of the global trade.

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher on Russia, Africa and BRICS. He is the author of the Geopolitical Handbook titled "Putin's African Dream and The New Dawn: Challenges and Emerging Opportunities" devoted to the first Russia-Africa Summit 2019.

Interpreting China's "Wolf-Warrior Diplomacy" (Интерпретация китайской «волчьей дипломатии») / United States, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion
United States

Zhiqun Zhu, PhD, ( is professor of Political Science and International Relations at Bucknell University. He has written extensively on Chinese foreign policy and US-China relations.
Recently the Chinese foreign ministry has taken an increasingly strident tone against the United States, Australia, and other countries. Dubbed "wolf-warrior diplomacy," this new approach seems popular inside China and reinforces a presumed transition of Chinese diplomacy from conservative, passive, and low-key to assertive, proactive, and high-profile.

Wolf Warrior and Wolf Warrior II are Chinese action blockbusters that highlight agents of Chinese special operation forces. They have boosted national pride and patriotism among Chinese viewers.

"Wolf-warrior diplomacy," named after these movies, describes Chinese diplomats' offensive to defend China's national interests, often in confrontational way. China's foreign ministry spokespersons Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian have taken to Twitter to hit back against external criticisms of China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the poor quality of exported Chinese medical equipment. Zhao said in a tweet on March 20 that "if someone claims that China's exports are toxic, then stop wearing China-made masks and protective gowns." He suggested in another tweet on March 12 that "It might be (the) US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan."

Why is China resorting to "wolf-warrior diplomacy?" Has this aggressive style become the new norm?

Soaring Nationalism

First, this change did not occur suddenly. Since 2010, when China's GDP overtook Japan's as the world's second largest, the Chinese have become more confident and China's foreign policy has become more assertive, gradually departing from Deng Xiaoping's taoguang yanghui dictum. As the Communist Party continues to promote "four confidences"—in our chosen path, in our political system, in our guiding theories, and in our culture—nationalism has been on the rise. "Wolf-warrior diplomacy" is an extension of soaring nationalism at home.

In recent years, President Xi Jinping has advocated "a fighting spirit" on several occasions, whether speaking to soldiers or party officials. This has apparently raised the morale of Chinese officials and diplomats, and encouraged a more assertive style.

"Wolf-warrior diplomacy" is evidenced not only in combative words but aggressive actions. For example, in early April, a Chinese coastguard ship allegedly sank a Vietnamese fishing trawler near the Paracel Islands. When Vietnam protested, the Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying Vietnam's claims to the area are "illegal." Then on April 19, the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources and Ministry of Civil Affairs jointly announced the naming of 80 islands, reefs, seamounts, shoals, and ridges in the South China Sea, triggering angry protests from other claimants. The last time China named islands and other geographical features in the South China Sea was in 1983.

Telling the China Story

Second, as China becomes more powerful, some other countries increasingly view its development as a threat to their national interests. These countries are generally unprepared or unwilling to accept China's rise. Many Chinese believe the Western media portrayal of China is highly biased, often with ideological and racist tinges. Wolf-warrior diplomacy is part of the Chinese government's endeavor to "tell the China story." The latest diplomatic offensive is also part of the official effort to project China as a great power leading the global fight against the Covid-19.

China's image suffered during the crisis due to its bungled handling of the outbreak at the early stage. Many blame China for initially covering up the human-to-human transmission of the virus and not sharing complete information with the international community.

From China's perspective, wolf-warrior diplomacy is a direct response to "unfair" approaches by other countries, especially the US, toward China and the Chinese people. For example, earlier this year, the United States and China were engaged in a race to expel journalists, starting after the publication of an op-ed entitled "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia" in The Wall Street Journal. When the WSJ refused to apologize, China expelled three of its journalists. Shortly afterwards, the US State Department declared five Chinese media outlets "foreign missions," requiring them to register personnel and property with the US government and cut the number of Chinese nationals working there. In retaliation, China expelled more American journalists.

Zhao's claim that the coronavirus might have been brought to Wuhan by the US military was a response to US politicians' calling it "Chinese virus." Hawks in the Trump administration, notably Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, continue to use the term "Wuhan virus," in defiance of the World Health Organization guidelines, to shift all responsibility to China.

Fizzling Out?

Third, just as Chinese society has become more diverse, Chinese diplomats are not monolithic. There is no consensus within the Chinese foreign policy establishment on whether confrontational diplomacy is desirable, and not all Chinese diplomats are wolf-warriors.

Traditionally minded Chinese diplomats, including the long-serving ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai, have sought to tamp down the combative impulse and dismissed Zhao's theory about the US military as "crazy." Another veteran diplomat, Fu Ying, said Chinese diplomats should uphold "the spirit of humility and tolerance, and adhere to communication, learning, and openness."

It is too early to tell whether "wolf-warrior diplomacy" represents the culmination of Chinese diplomacy's transition. As China faces growing external criticisms and demands for reparations over the coronavirus, it is not inconceivable that Chinese leaders may rein in confrontational diplomacy to create an environment conducive to domestic reconstruction.

In fact, wolf-warrior diplomacy is already hurting China's foreign policy, since it has generated pushback, such as Australia's calls for an independent probe into the coronavirus' origins. China's soft power is weak globally; a belligerent approach will further damage China's global image. According Pew polls released on April 21, 66% of Americans say they have an unfavorable view of China, its most negative rating since Pew began asking the question in 2005.

As the American public opinion of China and Xi turns more negative, so does Chinese public opinion on America. Professor Wang Jisi of Peking University noted in a recent speech that attitudes in the Chinese government, think tanks, media, and public opinion toward the US have greatly changed during the Covid-19 period. Yet, one sees no end in the information war and diplomatic battle. America's naming and shaming of China, and China's tit-for-tat response have made much-needed cooperation in combating the coronavirus very difficult.

Balancing National Interests and Soft Power

It is truly unfortunate that China and the United States are engaged in a diplomatic tussle and blame each other when they should work together. It's imperative that they play down their differences and focus on containing the coronavirus.

As a nation proud of its glorious ancient civilization, China should remain humble, benevolent, and magnanimous. It should also admit its botched handling of the coronavirus at the outset and hold relevant officials accountable. The Chinese government should improve the mechanism that encourages, not impedes, local officials to report such public health alerts.

Due to political, ideological, and cultural differences, Western suspicions about the Chinese government and anxiety about China's rise will not disappear anytime soon, and the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated such distrust and apprehension. A more powerful China should be more confident and receptive to constructive criticism. Striking a balance between firmly defending national interests and enhancing soft power is a great challenge in Chinese diplomacy today.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.

A new lease of life for the Brics (Новая жизнь БРИКС) / United Kingdom, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, covid-19, global_governance
United Kingdom

One of the first things markets decided about the Covid-19 crisis was that it would hit emerging markets hardest. It's not hard to see why that made sense. Fragile health systems could easily have been overrun. Slums and shanty towns make it very hard to self-isolate or socially distance. Corrupt, rackety governments would not be able to respond and debt ratios would rip out of control as economies and tax systems collapsed. It is, in general, much easier for rich countries to deal with an emergency than poor ones – they have more money.

But the first judgement is not always the correct one. And as the crisis hopefully starts to ease, that verdict is looking less convincing. Many of the emerging markets might struggle in the short term, but in the medium term they are likely to emerge as the big winners for three reasons.

Lower death tolls

First, so far they have coped with the virus far better than you might expect. Brazil looks to have been hit very badly and so has Russia. And of course it might be too early to tell: the virus might re-emerge in a deadly second wave. And yet, so far, countries are not being overwhelmed by the disease. Vietnam has a long border with China, and nearly 100 million people, but only 300 Covid-19 cases and no deaths. Most of Africa is so far relatively unscathed: South Africa, the most developed country on the continent, has recorded only 300 deaths so far, much less than its usual death rate.

We don't yet know the reason. It might be because they have younger populations – South Africa has only a tenth of the number of over-70s as Italy, for example. It might be warmer climates, or tuberculosis injections. It might be because they have stronger, more authoritarian governments that were able to impose lockdowns earlier (although that is hardly true of most of Africa). Whatever it is, the result is the same. Lockdowns will end earlier and there will be less damage done than to the countries – the UK, US, Italy and Spain – where the toll has been higher.

Manageable debts

Next, none of those countries are likely to be overwhelmed by debt. Sure, some of them have a lot of debt to start with and locked-down economies will suffer deep recessions. But the eye-watering levels of debt are all going to be in the developed world. Italy is heading towards a debt-to-GDP ratio of 200%. France is heading up towards 130% or 140%. They might be printing money like crazy right now, but they can't do that forever and sooner or later taxes will have to rise, or else spending will have to be cut to pay for it all. One or two emerging markets – including some of the usual suspects, such as Argentina – may have a debt crisis. Overall, however, they should emerge in far better shape.

The big trend of the 21st century

Finally, it is the developed markets that look uniquely vulnerable. Europe has been very hard hit by the virus and the strict rules of the eurozone will stop governments from spending their way out of trouble (even if the Germans have finally agreed to a limited bailout). The US has been so chaotic in its response it has surrendered global leadership (China looks more and more likely to assume the role). It is not going to be hard for the emerging markets to do well by comparison.

The big trend of the 21st-century was always going to be the steady shift of power and wealth from the old developed economies to the newer developing ones. They have demographics on their side, smaller states, and they can catch up rapidly with more developed rivals. For the last decade that has been on hold. For different reasons, the Brics – Brazil, Russia, India and China – struggled, with the exception of China. Some of the other big developing countries, such as Turkey and Nigeria, had their own issues to deal with. The American technology giants powered forward and it was their growth that excited investors. But in this decade, the shift to emerging markets is going to re-emerge as the biggest trend in the global economy – and the Covid-19 crisis will accelerate that.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
From Moscow to Brazil, South Africa, and China: Panelists Discuss Challenges and Potential for BRICS Countries in the Global Economy (От Москвы до Бразилии, Южной Африки и Китая: участники дискуссии обсуждают проблемы и потенциал стран БРИКС в глобальной экономике) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

On May 14, as part of the 'World Economy' session of the XXI April Conference 2020 an online panel attended by representatives of BRICS Network University took place. The session was devoted to the topic 'BRICS Countries in the Global Economy'.

HSE News Service spoke with two participants of the session: Professor Alina Shcherbakova who moderated the session in addition to serving as one of the panelists, and panelist Bruno de Conti. Professor Shcherbakova teaches in HSE University's School of World Economy, is the Academic Supervisor of the 'World Economy' Programme, and heads the Ibero-American Department of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEIS). Professor Bruno de Conti teaches economics at the University of Campinas (Brazil).

Russia's Chairmanship of BRICS in 2020 and New Priorities

One of the many topics covered at the session was Russia's role in the BRICS network in 2020. The panelists weighed in one what they thought should be key areas of focus in the coming remainder of the year. According to Alina Shcherbakova, 'The pandemic has revealed the need for cooperation between the BRICS countries, primarily in the health sector (which is Goal #3 among the UN's Sustainable Development Goals). Of course, all the Sustainable Development Goals remain very relevant, but COVID-19 has revealed our general unpreparedness for a disease of this magnitude. Therefore, the agenda of the Russian presidency will most likely be amended in the direction of increasing attention to the prevention of crises like this.'

Bruno de Conti expanded upon this idea, outlining what in his view should be the four most urgent priorities for global leaders right now. Countries, he said, should first of all be collaborating in their efforts to develop treatments and a vaccine against the coronavirus. 'It is a shame that countries are doing this individually, in a kind of race for their own advancement,' he said.

It is a humanitarian problem and countries should be working in collaboration—and BRICS should serve as an example in this regard.

Secondly, global leaders should be engaging in joint efforts to send emergency resources (equipment, rapid tests, and also money) for the world regions that are in need. The third and fourth priorities governments should undertake jointly are revamping the economy (particularly by investing) and working towards structural changes in the economic system in order to improve the environment and global living standards.

Challenges and Potential for BRICS Countries in the Global Economy

Insofar as the session was called 'BRICS Countries in the Global Economy', the presentations varied. Professor Reza Daniels of the University of Cape Town spoke about the causes and consequences of the slowing of economic growth of BRICS countries. Professor Makram El-Shagi of Henan University discussed inequality in Russia and compared the country to the United States in this regard.

In her presentation, 'BRICS Cooperation in Agriculture', Alina Shcherbakova discussed the ways in which agricultural cooperation between the countries is particularly strategic as well as how it can be improved. 'The BRICS countries are among the world's top 20 food exporters, yet they are not competitors in most export items. In this context, food trade between our countries is one of the key elements of cooperation. This is also shown by trade statistics: since the creation of BRICS, the share of intra-group food trade has increased significantly,' she said. 'But the main obstacle in this case is the lack of a single database of sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for imported products of each country.'

A second area of cooperation within this sphere, said Professor Shcherbakova, is in precision agriculture technologies. 'Brazil is the undisputed leader here, but other countries of the group have rich experience in agricultural research. A common goal for the BRICS countries is to increase the high technology intensity of agriculture—both locally and globally.'

Shcherbakova also touched on relations between Russia and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, with which Russia has been cooperating for more than a year. This cooperation is certainly promising for both Russia and the FAO itself, she said.

Now the transition to high-tech agriculture is of central importance, which the FAO actively supports in all regions, including Russia

'A more detailed discussion on this topic took place as part of the presentation, "Innovative Development of the Agricultural Sector in Russia. Agriculture 4.0", prepared by the HSE Institute for Agrarian Studies,' she noted.

In their presentation, 'Brazil in BRICS after the Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff: Economic Crises and Sudden Modifications in the External Policy', Professor Bruno de Conti and Professor Marco Antonio Roca discussed how Brazil's position regarding its participation in the BRICS network has changed since Jair Bolsonaro came to power in 2019. 'Since the coup d'état against president Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the foreign policy in Brazil has dramatically changed,' said de Conti. 'Notably, under the Bolsonaro government, the so-called "New Foreign Policy" claims a nationalism that is connected to western principles and Christianity, rejects diversity, is critical of multilateralism, and prioritizes establishing strong relations with the USA. The essence of this policy is therefore totally contradictory to the original aims of the BRICS network.'

However, Brazil is not abandoning its ties with BRICS countries. As de Conti pointed out, the country is very much economically dependent on China, so Bosonaro's administration is continuing Brazil's commitment to the group. Nonetheless, the country has relinquished its once 'protagonist role' in the network. 'The current Brazilian government sees BRICS as only a platform for enhancing its economic cooperation with the member countries (notably China), but not anymore as a group with potential for reshaping the international order,' he explains. 'We have to highlight, however, that this is the foreign policy of a very specific government. We trust new Brazilian governments will turn back to a stronger connection to BRICS, sharing again the same aspiration regarding changes in the international order.'

Online vs. Offline

In addition to pressing economic and geopolitical issues facing the BRICS network today, the session discussion turned to a topic that has been on all teachers and researchers' minds lately: the advantages and disadvantages of conducting events online.

'The online format has both pros and cons,' said Shcherbakova. 'Of the pluses, I can name the fact that this session is being attended by foreign colleagues who initially were not planning on flying out to Moscow to for the conference. But there are more cons, of course.' The cons, according to Shcherbakova, include having to juggle vastly different time zones (a particularly acute problem when coordinating with BRICS researchers) and being at the mercy of one's Internet connection.

Still, other disadvantages related to the event in a more essential capacity. 'Online, listeners ask fewer questions than in person,' she said. 'Perhaps this is due to the fact that speakers can connect more strongly with a live audience.' In addition, a virtual forum does not allow for in-person coffee breaks between papers. 'Not all questions come to participants' minds immediately, so conversations during coffee breaks and other informal elements of the conference are often no less interesting than the sessions themselves. Here we are deprived of this aspect, and this greatly affects participants' feelings after the session.'

Professor de Conti noted, 'On one hand, I would say nothing replaces in-person teaching and discussions, since it allows for close interaction, face-to-face conversations and consequently better discussions. The most challenging problem in my opinion is that it is much more difficult for everyone to keep focused.'

On the other hand, he said, 'We may not ignore that online format opens very wide possibilities for international cooperation. As a matter of fact, Prof. Alina Shcherbakova invited me to give an online lecture about the Brazilian situation to her students in June, which I will do with great pleasure! Hence, I would say online formats may be a very valuable tool to complement face-to-face instruction, rather than replace it. But as a complement, we certainly should use it!'

International Collaboration: Our Students and Our Research

Technical difficulties and distance aside, Professor Shcherbakova emphasized the importance of international collaboration, joint research, and dialogue, even if it occurs remotely. 'The experience of conducting sessions with colleagues who have similar research interests is especially useful, since the dialogue is not limited to a two-hour session period. And the fruits of this "cross-cutting" interaction are joint research and educational projects. So, for my students, I have repeatedly invited colleagues from the BRICS Network University to deliver lecture courses that students rated very highly.'

China's Financial Opening-Up Under the Covid-19 Pandemic (Финансовая открытость Китая в условиях пандемии Ковид-19) / Greece, May, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, economic_challenges, expert_opinion

Authors: Chan Kung and Wei Hongxu*

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the world, globalization, trade and production activities are hit hard. Despite the pandemic's presence, China continues to promote its financial opening-up. For starters, China is removing the restrictions on foreign financial institutions' access to the Chinese market at a pre-pandemic pace, as well as opening-up various financial industries such as securities firms, asset management, and insurance. Then, China has relaxed the restrictions imposed on international capital entering the Chinese market. However, the turmoil in the international financial market caused by the pandemic is continuously affecting China's financial system too. Due to the profound changes in the global economy and financial system caused by the pandemic, the act of reopening the financial world continues be questioned. Issues like the patterns that may crop up in the market's opening-up in the future and the progress of the internationalization of RMB are some questions worth pondering about.

Comparing the situation to the time before the pandemic took place, the current international financial system and the global economic landscape have undergone great changes. The pandemic has caused global trading system to come to a standstill, disrupting personnel exchanges and logistics, thereby worsening the trend of counter-globalization. In particular, the pandemic has hugely impacted the global industrial and supply chains. Following the pandemic, the reconstruction of industrial and supply chains will show a more regional trend. Officials from international organizations said that the pre-crisis international trade frictions have led to a slowdown in globalization and will worsen further after the crisis. Barry Eichengreen, a professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that globalization has begun slowing down. This is not only indicated through the slowdown of trades, but the increasing trade barriers and capital outflows from capital control countries too. Concurrently, global capital markets have been hit hard, and major central banks headed by the Federal Reserve have adopted a never-before-seen loose monetary policy, further reducing interest rate levels to maintain the bubble of financial assets. This caused the global financial system to experience turbulence and differentiation. In spite of that, the dollar 's position in the international financial system has actually strengthened, and emerging markets have been seriously affected, bearing the pressure of capital outflows and exchange rate depreciation.

Due to the pandemic and the tremendous changes happening within the international economy and finance, China's economy has also suffered. Particularly, its consumption, investment, and foreign trade all experienced substantial declines in the first quarter. Likewise, the nature of conflict between China and the United States has turned into a sociopolitical one, due to the countries' differences in managing COVID-19. In fact, China is expected to face a harder time on the international level in the future. The important question now is, will China's financial opening-up lead to further domestic financial risks and market turmoil? Follow up question, will it worsen China's economy and social stability? This is perhaps China's biggest financial concern as far as opening up is concerned. To ANBOUND's researchers, the changes in the international politics and economic landscape signifies things are shifting away from globalization and into regionalization and geopolitics. Going by ANBOUND's earlier discussions on the "Crisis Triangle", in the future, be it economic or financial fields, we anticipate competition for market space to further intensify. Therefore, China's reopened financial system needs to focus on improving the financial market system, either by opening the financial market and capital opening or internationalizing RMB.

China's financial market has been relatively closed off in the past. Not only are its market rules and legal systems inadequate, its financial institutions generally lack competitiveness as well. It's not surprising to see investors lack professionalism, which results in a "blockage" within the currency transmission mechanism, on top of poor efficiency in financial resource allocation. With that in mind, introducing specialized and highly competitive international institutions will have a "catfish effect" that enables local financial institutions' to compete better, achieve market optimization options, and improve the overall financial system. Furthermore, it enables foreign financial institutions to better serve Chinese enterprises and improves the efficiency in allocating financial resource too.

Up to this point, many institutions and researchers continue to confuse China's financial opening-up with RMB internationalization. In fact, looking at China's history of financial reform and past opening-up(s), its financial opening has been an ongoing journey, yet it was never once in sync with the level of RMB internationalization. The RMB internalization is more related to the changes in the exchange rate. When the RMB exchange rate saw a depreciation beginning 2015, it joined the SDR currency basket too. China and many other countries have signed currency swap agreements, though the offshore RMB is still shrinking. The situation has not changed with the opening-up of China's bond and A-share market represented by the expansion of the Shanghai-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect. While foreign investment in China's financial market is still increasing, the overseas use of the RMB as a trading and investment tool has not changed significantly. Not long ago, Yi Gang, governor of the People's Bank of China, mentioned the internationalization of the RMB is dependent on the market. The central bank's focus is to provide infrastructure, reduce restrictions on the use of RMB, while the market decides which currency to use. Therefore, the internationalization of the RMB is closely related to China's geo-influence in the international economy and trade scene.

Given the current turmoil in the international financial market, adhering to the opening-up of the financial market through system construction and upgrading should be China's focus in its financial opening-up, meaning the country should continuously deepen the capacity and improve its financial market's attractiveness. Done well, it will attract the entry of international financial institutions, even with restricted capital flows; and international capital will too value the return on Chinese assets and risk diversification. That said, China needs to be cautious in opening-up the capital account to avoid the impact of U.S. dollar capital. For a long time, the U.S. dollar has and will continue to occupy the top position in the international financial system. China's capital liberalization and RMB internationalization need to be promoted gradually in the form of regional trade settlement and bilateral financial cooperation. This means that China should adopt the means of "geo-development", as the outcome will depend on China's political and economic geo-influence.

Final analysis conclusion:

In the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, China should give a little more forethought pertaining its financial opening-up. On one hand, it should emphasize and accelerate the construction of the financial system to promote the opening of its domestic financial markets. On the other, a more cautious geo-approach is required to implement capital account opening and RMB internationalization.

*Wei Hongxu, graduated from the School of Mathematics of Peking University with a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Birmingham, UK in 2010 and is a researcher at Anbound Consulting, an independent think tank with headquarters in Beijing. Established in 1993, Anbound
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Press release on a special issue of the International Affairs magazine devoted to the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 (О специальном номере журнала «Международная жизнь», посвященном председательству России в БРИКС в 2020 году) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: mofa, chairmanship

A respected journal – the International Affairs magazine has published a special issue devoted to the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov writes in his address to readers that "BRICS is a striking example of the effectiveness of multipolar diplomacy. Countries with different cultural and civilizational backgrounds have united on the basis of a constructive foreign policy philosophy, so in demand in the tumultuous modern world."

The magazine will introduce the readers to the priorities of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 in all three pillars of BRICS Strategic Partnership – policy and security, economy and finance, people-to-people exchanges. It emphasizes the readiness to strengthen and deepen cooperation among the five countries, which is becoming even more relevant against the backdrop of global challenges such as the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The online version of the magazine's special issue is available in Russian and English on the official website of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020
Address to the Readers Sergei Lavrov Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia (Обращение Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова к читателям специального выпуска журнала «Международная жизнь», посвященного председательству России в БРИКС в 2020 году) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, mofa, chairmanship

Dear friends,

We would like to draw your kind attention to a special issue of the International Affairs magazine devoted to the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020. It will introduce you to the priorities and tasks of our country's participation in this unique global governance mechanism, which serves as one of the "pillars" of an emerging more just and democratic world order.

BRICS is a striking example of the effectiveness of multipolar diplomacy. Countries with different cultural and civilizational backgrounds have united on the basis of a constructive foreign policy philosophy, so in demand in the tumultuous modern world.

The participants adhere to coinciding or similar approaches to key global and regional issues. They are committed to building interstate communication on the principles of the UN Charter based on the values of equality, mutual respect and consideration of interests. They oppose the revision of the results of World War II.

All this creates the prerequisites for further consolidation of efforts aimed at building a stable and predictable future, for developing common answers to numerous challenges and threats of a global nature.

Economic cooperation is a special area of five-sided collaboration. The New Development Bank is successfully functioning. The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement is being strengthened. We reject the methods of protectionism and unilateral sanctions, proceed from the lack of alternatives to building international trade on the basis of transparency, openness and inclusiveness. Therefore, it is for a reason that more and more countries with dynamic economies are showing keen interest in the activities of BRICS.

Rich cultural, youth, educational, sports contacts contribute to fostering the atmosphere of friendship and trust between our peoples.

During the Russian BRICS Chairmanship, we will continue to work on expanding the horizons of our strategic partnership in all three main areas - political, economic and humanitarian. I am convinced that such a constructive, results-oriented approach, shared by our friends, will become the key to an effective Russia's BRICS Chairmanship and will allow us to successfully hold the XII Summit of the five countries in St. Petersburg in July 2020.

World of Work
BRICS development strategy and Russia's priorities (Стратегия развития БРИКС и приоритеты России) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion


Schedule: 29 May 2020, 14.00 – 16.00 (GMT+3)

The round table is held jointly by the National Committee on BRICS Research together with the BRICS Russia Expert Council and the Higher School of Economics.

Working language: Russian (simultaneous translation into English)

BRICS transregional partnership is a unique framework for international cooperation allowing its Member States to collaborate effectively in matters of global governance, sustainable development, security, energy, healthcare, digital transformation, trade and investment, innovation and sectoral project development. 'The Partnership of the Five,' rooted in the principle of sovereign equality, is continuously claiming its actorness in the face of current challenges, including the global pandemic and world economic crisis. New economic and geopolitical conditions, branded by some experts as a 'competition pandemic,' urge for abandonment of political ambitions and return to a constructive dialogue and consolidation of the Five's financial, technical, political and intellectual resources for a rapid launch of previously agreed cooperation projects and development of breakthrough cooperative solutions to swiftly overcome the crisis and its consequences. Russia's 2020 BRICS chairmanship is held under the motto "BRICS Strategic Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth." This offers a window of opportunity to define guidelines for pragmatic cooperation and lay the groundwork for mitigation of global security risks and enhancement of forecasting capabilities to develop effective strategies for preventive action.

Main topics of discussion:
- Current world economic crisis as a challenge and an opportunity for BRICS
- The role of BRICS in global economic governance and future of the BRICS Plus format
- Goals and tools of the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy 2025 amid recent challenges
- BRICS member states' cooperation projects in healthcare, education and science, innovations and new industrial revolution, information security and digital economy, agriculture, ecology and green economy, energy, competition: successes, preconditions for and difficulties of implementation
- The role of new financial tools in supporting cooperation projects. Strategy and objectives of the New Development Bank
- Russia's strategic objectives in BRICS and addressing new challenges and realities in the agenda of the Russia's 2020 BRICS Chairmanship


PANOVA Victoria, Managing Director of the National Committee on BRICS Research, Scientific Director of the BRICS Russia Expert Council, Vice President for International Relations of the Far Eastern Federal University

MESHKOVA Tatyana, Deputy First Vice Rector, Director of the Competence Centre for Cooperation with International Organisations,

HSE Experts:
BOBYLEV Sergey, Head of the Centre for Bioeconomy and Eco-Innovations, MSU
IVANOV Alexey, Director of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, Director of the BRICS Antimonopoly Centre
KURGUZOVA Anna, Strategy and Partnerships Division, BRICS New Development Bank LARIONOVA Marina, Head of the Centre for International Institutions Research, RANEPA MAKAROV Igor, Head of the School of World Economy, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, HSE
POPOVICH Larisa, Director of the Institute for Health Economics, HSE
SIMACHEV Yuri, Director for Economic Policy, Director of the Centre for Structural Policy Research, HSE
SMIRNOV Victor, Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Chair of the BRICS Council for Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation
STRIGUNOVA Natalia, Deputy Director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects, Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
KHOMYAKOV Maxim, Deputy Director of the HSE Campus in St. Petersburg, Expert of the National Coordinating Committee of the BRICS Network University
SHCHERBAKOVA Alina, Associate Professor at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Head of the CCEIS Ibero-American Department, HSE
YUDINA Olga, Deputy Director of the Project Management and Support Department, Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation

The round table is part of the Calendar of Activities of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship and the XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development official programme.

Further information could be found on the Conference's website -

The webcast link, conference ID and password will be sent later. For further enquiries please contact: Valeriia Gorbacheva, Tatyana Kurbatova, Vladimir Izotov, Elena Sabelnikova, Accreditation for press: Vadim Vorobyev,
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