Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 29.2020
2020.07.13 — 2020.07.19
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
China-India Conflict A Potential Threat To Five-Nation BRICS – Analysis (Китайско-индийский конфликт - потенциальная угроза для пяти стран БРИКС - анализ) / Russia, July, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Tension between China and India threatens to paralyse BRICS – the association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. While struggling to manage the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China and India have locked horns over issues in their "bilateral relations", ranging from border security to trade conflicts and information war.

The latest strains began in early May and culminated in hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley, a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometre (2,100-mile) Line of Actual Control – the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.

Punsara Amarasinghe, a former research fellow at the Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and now a PhD candidate in international law at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, argues that this tension is rather ironic given that in the past the two countries shared many civilisational values and both were victims of Western colonialism.

When India gained independence in 1947 from the British, its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru built a rapport with Communist China by accepting the government of Mao Zedong with great anticipation that both China and India would become the stalwarts in the global campaign against Western imperialism. For example, it was Nehru's idea that China should be granted a place in the non-aligned movement despite some of the opposition from some members at the famous Bandung Conference in 1955.

However, the comity between the two nations was short lived as China claimed the territory near Arunachal Pradesh whereas India adhered to the line of control known as the McMahon Line established by the British under the 1914 Simla Convention with the consent of Tibet. From the 1950s onwards, China showed its interest over the Aksai Chin area albeit its cordial relations with Nehru's India. This long dispute finally ended in military escalation in 1962, and became known as the Sino-Indian War.

While acknowledging that there are some other issues that have marred their relationship apart from the current border conflict, Amarasinghe told IDN that "both China and India have longed for global governance as emerging powers, and particularly, the influence expanded by China in South Asia has rapidly increased India's doubt on China's presence. Secondly, China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative project has literally encircled India geopolitically, creating a plethora of doubts about India's state apparatus."

He added that the notion of nuclear weapon strategies and India's affinity with the USA are the biggest dilemmas that China has persistently had in dealing with India. Moreover, India has been the sanctuary for Tibetan refugees, including the Dalai Lama.

As to the fundamental question of whether all these issues put together could possibly reappear in future, Amarasinghe told IDN: "Having looked at the trajectories of the history of Indo-China conflict, one can ascertain that the India-China issue has always been imbued with a question of power. Both states are yearning for global governance. Yet India is ahead of the curve as the world largest democracy and a state with one of the strongest soft powers, making the Indian narrative stronger, whereas Beijing is known for its autocracy."

On the other hand, he added, "we should not forget that the pact signed between China and India in 1996 clearly says that two states cannot use firearms in a border dispute escalation. However, there have been a number of events that have shown the acts of aggression in the Indo-China border conflict. The Chinese efforts of building a road in the Doklam area near the border created a tense situation in 2017. Three years after that event, the conflict erupted again."

China's Foreign Ministry stipulated measures that would be implemented in order to normalise the situation and prevent future armed conflicts. "The sides welcomed the developments of relations between defence agencies and the external affairs ministries, agreed to support such consultations in the future, and implement agreements that were reached by the two sides during the talks between the border troops commanders, as well complete as soon as possible the process of frontline troop withdrawal," read a ministry statement.

The Foreign Ministry noted that the sides also reached an agreement to implement measures in order to "prevent the reoccurrence of incidents which may influence the situation and peace in the border region."

"The relationship of China and India underwent various trials and their progress towards modern development was not always swift. As had been recently demonstrated correctly, and at the same time incorrectly, by the recent incident in the western sector of the China-India border in the Galwan River valley, China will continue to assert its territorial sovereignty as well as peace and tranquillity in the border region," according to the statement.

The sides expressed readiness to respect the agreements achieved previously by the heads of state, pay specific attention to the issue of state borders and prevent "disagreements from becoming conflicts." The sides also confirmed their adherence to the earlier agreements on the state border and expressed readiness to implement measures to normalise the situation in the border region.

Sino-Indian geopolitical rivalry is certainly not new, but today it has multifaceted implications for developments in the South Asian region and most possibly for BRICS. For example, in email discussions with IDN, Dr. Zhu Ming of the Institute for Global Governance Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS), noted that while there have been several disagreements between China and India, some have been resolved within the framework of international law but others have remained without comprehensive solutions.

Within the context of geopolitical alliances and emerging challenges, Tahama Asadis, a graduate of Strategic Studies from the National Defence University in Islamabad, noted the changing alliances and power equilibrium among the United States, China, India and Pakistan that bear key implications for inter-state rivalry and the consequent crisis dynamics in South Asia.

China has so far been successful in influencing South Asia because of many factors. One of the major reasons is that China has managed to project itself as a neighbour that would not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, least of all, in the internal affairs of its friends and partners. In the light of its 'Good Neighbour Policy', China's increased diplomatic and economic engagements in South Asia are aimed to enhancing its strategic influence in the region.

Professor Ian Taylor at the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom told IDN that he did not see any long-term future for the BRICS as a coherent grouping on the world stage. According to Taylor, China-India rivalry (as exemplified by border clashes) shows how shallow the alliance is. Furthermore, Brasilia has its own "Brazilian Trump" who sees alliance with the West as the way forward, not with other "developing countries".

Originally, BRIC was a four-member alliance until South Africa officially became a member in December 2010, after formally being invited by China to join and subsequently being accepted by the founding BRIC countries. The group was renamed BRICS – with the "S" standing for South Africa – to reflect the group's expanded membership.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, in June 2020, the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) approved an emergency programme loan of one billion dollars for South Africa. In spite of its huge natural resources and the fact that South Africa is considered the "economic giant" of Africa, nearly 80 percent of its estimated 80 million population still live in abject poverty. It heads the African Union (AU) this year and is a staunch member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"South Africa is in terminal decline and was only admitted to the BRICS for politically expedient-politically correct reasons. Its membership actually damaged the group's credibility. And of course, China will resist to the very end the notion that India be admitted to the UN Security Council as a Permanent Member," Taylor explained, adding that so much for the vaunted "South-South solidarity" that the BRICS was supposed to represent and what all the noise was about when it was launched.

Zhu Ming holds conservative not so negative views on the future of BRICS amid India-China conflicts, giving two reasons. The first and most important is that Beijing is still keeping a low profile on this conflict. For instance, Chinese local media coverage of this conflict is still quite low, and Beijing has not revealed losses on the Chinese side in order not to form the impression of too huge a gap in losses between two sides as to humiliate the Indian side. "Just imagine, if two people were fighting, the situation would be extremely hard to turn back to normal very soon. But if one side could keep relatively calm, the situation would be more optimistic."

Secondly, the disputed land is not worthy of a war between the two countries. "However, the rising nationalist mood of India is a bit troublesome. BRICS is not nothing to New Delhi, it will not be a good option for India to quit BRICS. Since BRICS was formed jointly by five powers, China does not own BRICS," he told IDN, adding, "it is a bit early to judge the prospects of BRICS. Since, this year's BRICS summit is still open, despite its postponement. It is quite possible that the global and BRICS health governance system could be another rising cooperation field within the BRICS group after the forthcoming BRICS summit." In terms of whether Sino-Indian tension could affect BRICS and geopolitical influences in the Asian region, Amarasinghe made the interesting observation that the defence ministers of China and India were present during the Moscow Victory Day Parade on June 24 as guests of the Russian Federation.

"While there are no official claims from the Kremlin that Putin was brokering any negotiation between the two to reconcile the border dispute, if Russia can make a good move in meddling with the Indo-China border conflict, I assume it will work to a greater extent. Given the history of Russia's dominant role in South Asia since its Soviet past, Moscow has a greater capacity to play the role of mediator. Besides that, BRICS is a platform for emerging powers and its capacity cannot be discarded as a regional political talk shop. Thus, I believe BRICS would create some steps for a more amicable solution," Amarasinghe concluded on an optimistic note.

The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs, and all are members of the G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits, with Brazil having hosted the most recent 11th BRICS Summit in November 2019. Russia is heading the presidency in 2020 and plans to push forward significant issues of five-sided cooperation in the bloc's three areas of strategic partnership: policy and security, economy and finance, and cultural and educational cooperation.

The five BRICS countries together represent over 3.1 billion people, or about 41 percent of the world population. As of 2018, these five nations had a combined nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 18.6 trillion dollars and an estimated 4.46 trillion dollars in combined foreign reserves. Bilateral relations among BRICS nations are conducted on the basis of non-interference, equality and mutual benefit.
South Africa would gain from co-operation among BRICS countries on beneficiation (Южная Африка выиграет от сотрудничества стран БРИКС в области обогащения) / South Africa, July, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation
South Africa

South Africa needs a sounder mineral beneficiation policy to tackle the challenges the country faces, particularly rising unemployment. Its beneficiation policy is not very demanding and isn't pursued with any vigour.

For example, South Africa should be pursuing trade cooperation with Brazil, Russia, India and China. Together with South Africa they make up the BRICS grouping, which was formed in 2010 with the purpose of pursuing economic development.

China and India are resource-rich economies. But they still need additional raw materials to supplement their production amid a faster industrialisation agenda.

In addition, the BRICS have a rich history of beneficiation. Beneficiation activities in China and Russia have had a positive bearing on the economy and industrialisation. Both countries have developed strong military and ammunition capabilities. For its part India has focused on information technology and Brazil on the transport industry.

South Africa would benefit greatly from exchanging knowledge and skills with the other BRICS countries. Engagements that seek to do this could enhance cooperation among member countries. They could result in South Africa benefiting from what has worked – and what hasn't worked – elsewhere.

There has been research on how China (a BRICS member state) has used beneficiation to drive economic development. But little has been done on how the BRICS member countries can collectively drive beneficiation and how it could benefit South Africa.

The BRICS countries have never jointly agreed to a beneficiation policy. But work has been done on how BRICS collaboration could be improved. These opportunities have included skills transfer, information sharing and investment in both downstream and upstream beneficiation activities.

For my previous research I explored the effects of the BRICS partnership on mineral beneficiation in South Africa by investigating a partnership approach in beneficiation cooperation and commodity trade.

The aim of my study was to explore the effects of the BRICS partnership on mineral beneficiation in South Africa. I concluded by recommending a model which called for gradual beneficiation and experiments in South Africa with the support of the BRICS.


South Africa leads in mining of platinum group metals (PGMs) and gold. In addition, the production of ferrous metals such as manganese and chrome is of world class standard. The iron ore exports in the country have been reported to be incremental.

South Africa can boast of 90% of platinum metals produced in the world, 80% of manganese, 73% of chrome, 45% of vanadium and 41% of the gold extracted on earth. I conducted a survey among mining companies as part of my research. Around 80% were based in Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria). Just under 60% of the companies involved were in the business of mining strategic minerals such as coal, diamonds, gold and platinum.

Skills transfer emerged as a major theme, with 90% of the participants stating that skills training was needed for downstream beneficiation. This pointed to the need for skills transfer among the BRICS. Examples included cutting and polishing of minerals and making craft jewellery.

It was also established that BRICS activities could be improved by collaborative synergies, financial resources provision and a favourable fiscal policy.

The study called for a conversation among stakeholders on the current mining charter and the national mineral beneficiation policy of South Africa. As BRICS countries are interested in commodity trade and mining activities, South Africa could tap into the knowledge of counterparts on beneficiation issues where success stories are visible. A diversification strategy is increasingly being adopted by the biggest South American conglomerates.

My research found that South Africa was outperformed by its counterparts within the partnership on economic grounds. However, it scored higher on democratic institutions and performance of the banking sector.

Next steps

The World Trade Organisation is not in favour of a country forcing local beneficiation onto the market (a participant stated this during the interview). This points to the need for South Africa to take a gradual approach.

It first needs to ensure steady economic growth, identify regional market opportunities and lobby the international partners in the BRICS to improve its chances of having the WTO and other stakeholders support national beneficiation policy.

Other hurdles that need to be cleared include the supply of water and power.

BRICS countries should encourage synergies among them towards a more responsible beneficiation practice. The synergies can be used in a form of "aggregate power" exerted to change and transform the global economy.

Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's telephone conversation with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi (О телефонном разговоре Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова с членом Государственного Совета, Министром иностранных дел Китайской Народной Республики Ван И) / Russia, July, 2020
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, wang_yi, foreign_ministers_meeting

On July 17, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China Wang Yi.

The ministers discussed a number of current issues on the bilateral and international agendas, including preparations for the summit of UN Security Council permanent members, global security, developments in various regions of the world, integration processes in Eurasia, and SCO and BRICS activities under Russia's chairmanship this year.

Sergey Lavrov informed his colleague about the progress of the Russia-US dialogue on arms control in the context of maintaining strategic stability.

Wang Yi spoke about the results of yesterday's China + Central Asia (C+C5) foreign ministers' videoconference.

The ministers expressed a mutual commitment to continue close cooperation in fighting COVID-19, including within the World Health Organisation and in other multilateral formats.

The conversation was held in a trust-based and constructive manner and confirmed the consistency of opinions on all the topics discussed as well as Moscow and Beijing's commitment to settling global issues exclusively through equal dialogue and a search for a balance of interests while respecting the principles of the UN Charter.

BRICS Contact Group Meeting participants discuss the agenda of the meeting of BRICS economy and foreign trade ministers (Участники заседания контактной группы БРИКС обсуждают повестку дня встречи министров экономики и внешней торговли стран БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, global_governance

On 16 July, Ms Natalya Stapran, Director of the Department for Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, chaired the third meeting of the BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020. The event was a preparatory step for the upcoming Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Economy and Foreign Trade scheduled for 23 July.

The videoconference participants had an in-depth discussion of the Draft Joint Ministerial Communique and developed agreed positions regarding the support for a multilateral trade system, the WTO reform, countering unilateral restrictive measures, unlocking the potential of the digital economy, support for SMEs and the sustainable and inclusive development agenda.

Also while discussing the updated Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025, experts of the five countries provided their proposals to the draft document on three key blocks: trade, investment and finance, as well as digital economy and sustainable development. The parties noted the significant potential of the BRICS countriesin developing all areas of cooperation enshrined in the Draft Strategy, which is especially important today in connection with the need to counter the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Review Indo-Chinese - Conflict and the Eurasian Heartland (Глобальный обзор Индокитайский - конфликт и евразийское сердце) / Russia, July, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Ralf Ostner

In Russia, be it Russian President Putin, be it former Soviet Prime minister Primakov and his advisor Dr. Kulikov (Russia-India-China model/RIC), be it Karaganov, be it even Dr. Kortunov (RIAC), or the Russian Orientalists, Eurasianism is quite en vogue and not only by its former avangardist Alexander Dugin. Especially Dr. Kortunov in his article "Heartland Reunion: Geopolitical Chimera or Historical Chance?" revitalized the idea of Mackinder's paradigm, according to which who controls the Eurasian Heartland, controls The World-Island. He sees this formula as very modern. In his opinion, Sino-Indian cooperation beyond the RIC, BRICS and SCO framework would mean the control of the Eurasian Heartland at present and in the future. In his article, the author highlights how such cooperation could work, as well as how, serving as a tandem, China and India could attract both authoritarian states (China) and liberal democratic countries (India). Furthermore, in the article "Pakistan's Role in the Great Eurasian Partnership" from June 2020, Mr. Morozov and Mr. Korybko present Putin's concept of Great Eurasian Partnership (GEP), covering topics such as further cooperation between the BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union, the deepening of the SCO, as well as the incorporation of other Eurasian states like Pakistan.

However, if one looks at the present Sino-Indian border conflict and the rising assertiveness and nationalism on both sides, it is hard to imagine, at least for the foreseeable future, for such a harmonious Eurasian Heartland cooperation to exist. Even if Russia tried to mediate for and support India's membership in the permanent UNSC, with China blocking all these efforts, raising doubts about a possible Eurasian world, cooperation remains quite unlikely. In this regard, it is of particular interest to have a look at the present Sino-Indian border conflict.

The Indo-Chinese border conflict at Ladakh carries different explanations:

According to China, India's new nationalism as well as the country's rapprochement with the USA, aiming at replacing China as a global factory, would now also mirror in the military sphere. As evidenced by the Global Times:

"An economy-crippling lockdown doesn't seem to have deterred India from daring to dream big as its ambition to replace China's role in the global industrial chain expands".

Furthermore, according to media reports , in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India would be attempting at forming an economic task force in order to attract companies eyeing a manufacturing shift from China. However, despite such efforts, it is still unrealistic to expect financial pressure facing China amid the COVID-19 pandemic will allow India to become the world's next factory. Radical voices saying that India is on track to replace China reflect nothing but nationalistic hubris.

Such misconception has gone beyond purely economic issues, reaching also the military level, leading some to mistakenly believe India could now confront China with border issues. Such thinking appears not only dangerous, but also misguided. Thus far, Chinese border defense troops have bolstered border control measures and made necessary moves in response to New Delhi's recent attempt to unilaterally change the border control situation in the Galwan Valley region.

Western media outlets have been enthusiastic in touting India's competitiveness by comparing its market potential to China's, giving some Indians a false impression of the actual situation. It would be unrealistic to think that India could take China's place at the current time. Tensions between China and the US are not to be regarded as an opportunity for India to attract relocating industrial chains. Given its inadequate infrastructure, lack of skilled labor, and stringent foreign investment restrictions, the South Asian country is not yet prepared to receive such a manufacturing shift". (The Global Times).

According to China, India would be responsible for the its new assertiveness, infrastructure building in the Galwan Valley region with the aim of fixing new borders, the Trump-Modi meeting, as well for the new Indian Hindu nationalism which by the Jammu-Kashmir abrogation law also would influence the Line of Control. On the other side, India denounces the rise of a new Chinese assertiveness. The country also pointed out how, until just recently, China never publicly stated for the contested territory to be part of its country. Furthermore, India blames the opponent for its aggressive actions, such as those taking place in the South China Sea, considered to be the model for Chinese encroachment approach. Chinese and Indian hawks on both sides are proposing military action and voice alarmist warnings.

Frontrunners to this, the Tibetan exile community in India, which sees Mao Zedong's five finger strategy at work. In a recent interview Lobsang Sangay stated Beijing's recent actions on the Line of Actual Control with India could be perceived as a way to follow the 'Five Fingers of Tibet strategy' laid down by Mao Zedong.

China's claim of sovereignty over the entire Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, a claim that it had not made directly for decades, has prompted the Tibetan government-in-exile leader to issue a dire warning to India: "learn from what happened to Tibet".

"When Tibet was occupied, Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders said, 'Tibet is the palm we must occupy, then we will go after the five fingers'. The first finger is Ladakh. The other four are Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh," he said.

The statement came shortly after India's ministry of external affairs cautioned China not to make "exaggerated and untenable claims."

Following a read-out phone conversation between Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17, the country denounced the Chinese side for having "sought to erect a structure in the Galwan Valley on our side of the LAC".

Beyond encroaching the Galwan valley and other disputed areas, China also seems to be planning vast water reservoirs in Tibet through the so-called Heaven Channel in order to diversify water resources to Beijing and Shanghai and hence satisfy China's water shortage. The plan, however, entails that water volumes belonging to India and Southeast Asia would, consequently, also be lacking. A behavior that could lead to great ecological and economic consequences. In this regard, there is increasing hope among Tibetans for their country independence to be also promoted through a Sino-Indian water conflict, as well as through a border one, as the Tibetan Rangzen Alliance and one of its leaders Jamyang Norbu expressed very clearly:

"The possibility of anarchy and chaos breaking out is very real. Should it get there, there would surely be a chance to achieve Tibet's independence. Of course, we have to use those moments with determination and force. The Chinese, however weak and disoriented, will certainly not surrender Tibet peacefully or voluntarily. Simultaneously, it must be emphasized that independence is not achieved by merely waiting for China to destroy itself. The Tibetans can promote the process by destabilizing Tibet from the inside and organizing international economic actions against China. (…) Even if China should not ultimately break up, but is only weakened by today's difficulties, the Tibetans would still have the possibility of creating or promoting a situation in which China's resources are underutilized, and Beijing's leadership is forced to consider whether it is wise to sacrifice China' s own stability and integrity peripheral colonies. (…) (Chinese geostrategist ) Wang does not overlook India's role in the matter and surprisingly admits that the Tibetans are much closer to India mentally, culturally, and even physically than to China. He describes how Chinese Qing and Guomindang officials often traveled to Lhasa via India because it was much more convenient. Wang sees a great danger in this proximity of the two nations for he recognizes that India's military capabilities have improved tremendously since 1962. The specialist also admits that Indian defense spending rose almost twice as fast as the Chinese one in the 1980s, reaching, as of today, even higher levels, although China has also, on its part, increased its spending significantly. He appeals to foreign military experts who "believe that India today has the best mountain troops in the world, the toughest, the best equipped and capable of successfully warding off any Chinese attack."

Jamyang Norbu´s assessment mets with present analysis of experts:According to media reports, the expert also stated that India "has the world's largest and experienced plateau and mountain troops equipped with some of the best weapons suited for such terrain in the Tibetan border."

While the Dalai Lama is still committed to a peaceful solution and to a "meaningful autonomy" in dialogue with Beijing,, parts of the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Rangzen Alliance are likely to explore other options. The extent to which it seems realistic to assume that India could occupy Tibet militarily and that a war with China would be waged remains to be seen. Nonetheless, parts of the Tibetan community seem to be placing their hopes in such an option, especially after the Dalai Lama's death. Ultimately, however, it is decided in India and the United States to what extent you want to play the Tibetan card,means: the propmtion of an Tibetean uprising and insurgency as a pretext to intervene. The Global Times in the article "Proposed 'Tibet card' adverse for Indian economy""warns India from using the "Tibetan card":

"Some Indian media outlets have recently suggested that India should play the "Tibet card" after deadly clashes erupted at the China-India border, reflecting nothing but a misguided and nonsensical viewpoint.Perhaps some in India think the Tibet issue could be a trump card to use as leverage when it comes to the tensions between China and India, but such an idea is simply delusional. The Tibet issue falls under China's internal affairs, involves the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and is a bottom-line issue that should not be touched. "

However, other countries as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and former allies of India remain silent and attribute the new crisis to Modi.

China hawks in India already propose Indian assertive actions and criticize Modi for not posturing resolute enough as well as for having let China step by step make its gradual encroachment of the Indian territory. Therefore, even the threat of an Indian-Chinese border war was an idea as Indian geostrategist Bharat Karnad proposed in his article "India's squeamish attitude towards China is a liability. The army should implement more violent rules of engagement and prepare for limited war."

Indian strategist Samir Tata also proposed a US-Indo alliance not only in the Indo-Pacific but also in the Himalaya, with US boots on the ground and in the event that Indian and US forces attacked Tibet and cut off China in Tibet and Xinjiang from its New Silkroad, gas and oil pipelines and water resources. In his article "US Land power and an Indo-American Alliance"[1] Samir Tata questions former Secretary of Defense Robert Gate's assumption that in future US wars boots on the ground would not be essential and that Navy and Airforce would likely be the main forces involved. Accordingly, the US Army should get prepared to fight Himalaya and land wars against China together with India. The question is if the author means his article serious or if it is just a desperate move of the US Army to find a new place and role within the US military branches, which are enlarged by a Cybercommand and maybe a new Space force . However, the article also addresses other issues, such as: China getting more independent from sea routes as a result of its New Silkroad initiative; the obsolescence of offshore control and air-sea battle; and the fact that, in the event of a war, the USA would have to find a solution to cut off China from its silk roads. In this regard, it is also noted that precision-guided missiles on pipelines and trucks might work in the Himalaya.

The Chinese military strategist Chen Guodong comments Samir Tata's article in an Global Review article as follows:

"What is the strategic motivation of Indian scholar Samir Tata? I can't see it in this report. If Britain does not deliberately delineate a controversial borderline in the South Asian subcontinent, there will be no contradiction between China and India, and there will be no contradiction between India and Pakistan. There have been three wars between India and Pakistan, and a large-scale border war between India and China.

India's national strength and national interests do not support India's political ambitions. India should work to reduce conflicts with its neighbors. This report suggests that India is involved in an unknown conflict, which is not in India's interest.

From a military perspective, the cost of long-range strikes is high, which is a disadvantage of India. The border between China and India is very close to major cities and industrial centers in India. China can use the tactical ballistic missiles and the J-20 stealth attack aircraft to hit India's core area. India lacks conventional attacks on China's core regions.

China's energy import routes are diversified. China's massive investment in wind power, solar power, nuclear power, and electric vehicles will significantly reduce its dependence on imported oil. Even on the Indian Ocean route, the range and hit accuracy of China's second-generation anti-ship ballistic missile Dongfeng-26 can effectively protect Chinese merchant ships sailing in the Indian Ocean.

The strategic motivation of Indian scholar Samir Tata is chaotic."

Of course, these are China hawks on both the US and Indian side, but China also wants to show that it is prepared for that sort of scenarios and wants to deter it.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting intensive military exercises of multiple dimensions. Those actions include: the tank drills in Tibet Autonomous Region; the large-scale army maneuver to Northwest China, and, following the fatal clash between China and India, the nighttime group parachute infiltration.

These PLA drills not only showed that its forces stationed in border regions have high combat capability, but that troops from across China will also come to their aid, and the PLA can crush any aggression with land-air integrated joint operations.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert stated that while the Western Theater Command is responsible for the defense of the border between China and India, forces from other theater commands could also support it.

While the fatal clash between China and India in the Galwan Valley region is unlikely to escalate into a large-scale military conflict, as such an escalation is against both sides' interests, the PLA showed they are prepared, as analysts said."

There are also voices in India that want to deescalate the conflict. Indian president, Modi stated India is prepared to counter further Chinese expansion. The president rejects the Congress Party's attacks according to which the soldiers were not armed. Conversely while denouncing the fact that that they were armed, Mobi also asserted that India, in case of a territorial dispute, is not willing to make any concessions. However, he also proposed military dialogue. An approach which might be followed by a political discussion between him and Xi Jinping and in the framework of SCO and BRICs, maybe even with Russia as mediator. Another high-ranking military also tries to deescalate by his opinion that the Indo-Chinese border conflict was not a new Kargil crisis. Former chief of army staff General Ved Prakash Malik says Xi wants to retake territories China believes it had controlled earlier. "

However, while in China the population doesn't care too much about these Himalaya territories, in India it is a big issue:.There are now "Boycott Chinese products", stop Chinese 5G, decouple from China, and other anti- Chinese movements in the Indian population. General Asthana already mentioned the idea according to which these border conflicts would actually be due to the fact that China never really accepted the old British treaties. And, still according to the expert, in lack of an agreement of delineation, demarcation, and demilitarization, these conflicts are likely to continue. However, given China's new assertiveness resulting from the Chinese-Pakistani Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as the New Silkroad, it remains unclear whether there will be any compromise. China and Pakistan, as of today, fought separate wars against India. Nonetheless, lacking a problem's resolution, it doesn't seem that absurd for a possible joint two front attack against India to occur, also in view of a Chinese support in the Indian Ocean. In this regard, Modi and Russia are jointly working to reduce such tensions. However, at least for now, Eurasian heartland cooperation, as proposed by Dr. Kortunov, seems very unlikely.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS New Development Bank turns five: The benefits of KV Kamath's legacy (Новому банку развития БРИКС исполняется пять лет: преимущества наследия К.В. Камата) / India, July, 2020
Keywords: ndb

As the world and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries continue to be gripped by the global Covid-19 pandemic, the New Development Bank (NDB) quietly marked its fifth anniversary. On July 6, 2020, the NDB bid farewell to its inaugural President, KV Kamath.

The farewell for the NDB President was a simple affair, with him dialling in via a virtual Zoom call (from Mumbai) to staff in Shanghai to deliver his message. The symbolism of this understated farewell is characteristic of the humility of the man, who is renowned for having little tolerance for fanfare or ceremony.

He steered the Bank through three distinct phases—a start-up phase, a rapid growth phase and finally, a steady-state by the time of his departure. The metaphor of the conductor of an orchestra, which is sometimes used in the literature of leadership, is an apt description of his leadership style. A conductor does not speak himself, but energises his troops to perform. His true power derives from his ability to make others believe in their abilities. At NDB, Kamath enabled each player, from the most junior up to the management, to bring out the best of their capabilities.

The story of the NDB began in June 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi nominated India's most celebrated and accomplished banker to be in charge of a complete start-up. He is best known as the former chairman of ICICI, the largest private sector bank by assets, and former chairman of Infosys. Kamath, after an illustrious 42-year banking career, left the pinnacle of the largest corporations in India to lead a start-up with five full-time employees.

It was in a hotel in Moscow, at the BRICS Summit in 2015, when I first met Kamath. In that first encounter, I was struck by the clarity and seeming simplicity of his vision. He calmly narrated to me what he thought the approximate size of the Bank's balance sheet ought to be by year five, outlining the importance of building a lean and agile organisation. He spoke of investing in youth and why financing infrastructure in the local currency of the BRICS member countries should be high priority. I had my doubts and it required a leap of faith to believe that these stretch goals could be achieved from a zero start.

It was at this summit that the BRICS heads of state entrusted him with the ambitious project to create a new multilateral development bank (MDB) headquartered in Shanghai, China. The core purpose of the NDB is to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development. Sustainable infrastructure in this sense refers to investments in sectors such as energy generation, water and sanitation, transport (roads, bridges, railways and ports) and communication infrastructure.

Over the past five years, armed with a subscribed capital base of $50 billion, the NDB has played an indispensable role in providing additional pools of capital to BRICS countries, to fund their sustainable infrastructure, and economic development agenda.

The journey started in temporary offices on a single floor, in Lujiazui, the financial heartland of Shanghai, with a team of five executives, each representing a BRICS nation. NDB at the time, was at ground zero with no other full-time staff, no technology systems or infrastructure of any kind. Fast forward five years: What has since been achieved at the Bank?

  • An approved loan book of $18.3 billion in 56 significant projects across the BRICS nations
  • Strong reputation as a leader in green and sustainable infrastructure and green finance. NDB launched its capital market transaction in 2016 as a green bond in China—the first multilateral development bank to do so.
  • Kamath strongly advocated the idea of financing more and more of the Banks' infrastructure programs in the local currency of its member countries. To give effect to this, the Bank successfully registered and utilised a RMB10 billion bond program in China. The Bank also registered a R10 billion bond program on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in South Africa and a RUB100 billion bond program on the Moscow Exchange.
  • Then in 2019, the Bank registered a $50 billion global EMTN bond program and during Covid-19, NDB successfully launched its debut benchmark USD1.5 billion bond issuance.
  • Crucially, the Bank obtained two AA+ international credit ratings from Standard & Poor and Fitch and a AAA international rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency and ACRA. The average credit rating of the BRICS countries is BBB-. The Bank has therefore managed to obtain an international stamp of credit worthiness significantly above that of its shareholders, which enables it to lend to its member countries at very competitive rates.
  • Finally, the Bank is on course to expand its membership to include new shareholders beyond the BRICS nations and grow into a fully-fledged global financial institution.
These achievements strongly validate the original rationale and dream of the BRICS nations to create a new emerging market focused multilateral development bank.

But Kamath largely left the task of telling the story of the Bank's remarkable achievements to others.

I occupied an office next to his, and was able to seek his counsel and observe him closely over these years. Three lasting leadership lessons will stay with me forever. Firstly, he set stretch targets, audacious deadlines and actively encouraged teams in the Bank to question the established approaches, explore new ideas and new processes. Secondly, armed with this explorer mindset, teams at NDB were encouraged to tinker, innovate and experiment. The mantra was to embrace innovation and look at old problems through a new lens. Finally, he firmly believed in nurturing the talent, passion and energy of young professionals, preferring to empower them with responsibilities way above their level of experience.

In the turmoil of Covid-19, the NDB has cemented its place as one of the most important sources of external financing to BRICS countries to tackle the ravaging consequences of the pandemic. Shortly after the outbreak, the NDB repurposed its lending program and announced a $10 billion Emergency Assistance Program to help steer BRICS countries through the crisis. To be fully allocated during 2020, this represents development assistance which would not have been available if the NDB was not created five years ago.

Kamath leaves behind a rich legacy having led the creation of a new, respected, fully fledged multilateral development bank.

Leslie Maasdorp is Vice President and CFO of the New Development Bank

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Dmitry Rogozin attends BRICS Heads of Space Agencies videoconference (Дмитрий Рогозин на видеоконференции руководителей космических агентств стран БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2020
Keywords: space, top_level_meeting

On 15 July, Mr Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of "Roscosmos" State Space Corporation, chaired a Meeting of the Heads of the Space Agencies of the BRICS countries via videoconference.

The Meeting saw the presence of Mr Carlos Augusto Teixeira de Moura, President of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Dr K.Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Secretary, DOS; Mr Zhang Keijan, Head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Dr Valanathan Munsami, Chief Executive Officer of South African National Space Agency (SANSA).

The Heads of the BRICS specialised agencies discussed topical issues of international cooperation in space exploration and global trends in the development of space activities, as well as presented reports on national achievements in the peaceful use and exploration of outer space.

In his opening remarks, Dmitry Rogozin noted that BRICS plays an important role in the global economy uniting the countries' industrial and scientific potential in striving for sustainable development.

According to the Head of Roscosmos, in this context the five countries need to further enhance cooperation in the science and technical area of space exploration, including in practical work on such projects as the lunar programme, as well as to improve international legal regulation for space exploration in order to ensure responsible, safe and peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind.
World of Work
Experts discuss "one-stop" digital platforms for Small and Medium Enterprises in the BRICS countries (Эксперты обсуждают «универсальные» цифровые платформы для малых и средних предприятий в странах БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2020
Keywords: digital, expert_opinion, top_level_meeting

On 14 July, under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation held a Roundtable Discussion on Support and Development of Small and Medium Enterprises in the BRICS Countries.

The videoconference was attended by government officials and representatives of public and business structures focused on interaction and development of SMEs.

Russian and international experts representing Line agencies and departments exchanged experience and best practices on using digital technologies for the development and support of SMEs. The participants also reviewed the main steps to ensure successful digitalization of this segment of the economy, the state regulation tools that are most popular among entrepreneurs and the principles for evaluating the results of the taken measures.

The experts paid special attention to two main issues: the digital transformation of administrative and tax services and the creation of the necessary conditions, as well as the promotion of the digitalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

"The interaction of the BRICS countries on the support and development of SMEs is an excellent opportunity to achieve the growing potential of the economies of BRICS countries", Mr Kirill Sergashov, Deputy Director of the Investment Policy and Entrepreneurship Development Department at the Ministry of Economic Development stated in his opening remarks. "At the same time, today we can see that digitalization is fundamentally changing the business model. Undoubtedly, digital technologies improve the business landscape and are a source of new jobs, increased innovation efforts, stronger international relations and support for the export potential of SMEs. Our countries can clearly see the fundamental importance of the transition of SMEs to the digital economy".

The Russian Side proposed to analyze the level of digitalization of the government structures of BRICS countries. This information could serve as a basis for further steps to create a "one-stop" digital platform for SMEs in Russia. Such a platform would greatly simplify the paperwork when interacting with taxa and administrative services, and would also boost business activities. The representatives of Russia noted that the country is willing to share its experience in developing such a platform with BRICS partners.
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