Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 52.2017
2017.12.18— 2017.12.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks at a meeting of the Business Council under the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Moscow, December 18, 2017 (Вступительное слово Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе заседания Делового совета при Министре иностранных дел Российской Федерации, Москва, 18 декабря 2017 года) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, top_level_meeting, speech

Good afternoon, colleagues,

And so we begin the Business Council meeting.

I think these meetings are mutually beneficial for the executive authorities and our business circles.

We have a fairly important and wide-reaching topic, which is the goals and prospects for strengthening economic cooperation within the BRICS, on today's agenda.

There has been quantitative and, more importantly, qualitative growth in the activities of this association in recent years. The Big Five has entered its second decade of activity. We can safely state that it has evolved from a club into a full-fledged strategic partnership mechanism covering many areas. Two BRICS leaders' summits are held annually - the main one and a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 meeting, plus about 100 official events, of which about 20 are ministerial meetings. These figures translate into a wide network of concrete interactions between the five countries, contacts and cooperation between business circles, scientists and representatives of civil society.

Deepening the strategic partnership within BRICS is among Russia's foreign policy priorities. More and more countries are listening to the voice of the Big Five, especially since the planet is not getting any more peaceful or safer. In this situation, it is important for us to promote polycentric and multilateral approaches to addressing international challenges. It is a natural process which reflects the objective redistribution of the global balance of power in favour of emerging markets. This found its reflection in the emergence of formats such as BRICS and the G20, the existence of which, by the way, means recognition by Western countries of their inability to independently address international monetary issues without the participation of emerging economies as new centres of economic power and financial influence, which, of course, paves the way to political influence.

Clearly, a new world order, which should be democratic, has yet to be won. The stumbling blocks include the attempts by a number of states to cling to outdated approaches, to maintain domination, to impose their own development models on other nations, and to promote their private interests unilaterally using forceful methods.

In contrast, BRICS is a vivid and positive example of strengthening multilateral and collective principles in international affairs. These states with various cultural and civilisational foundations rely in their relations on the principles of equality, mutual respect, the supremacy of international law and strict consideration of each other's interests. We have identical or similar approaches to the key issues facing humankind. We focus on forming an equitable global governance system that takes into account the interests of all key countries, including emerging and developing economies. We firmly uphold the basic principles of the UN Charter. This really constitutes the foundation of the world order, in particular, the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and the resolution of disputes by peaceful means. Together with our BRICS partners, we are promoting a unifying agenda for international relations, and are looking for opportunities to achieve connectivity of approaches in the areas where they do not yet fully reflect the consensus.

The comprehensive cooperation within BRICS follows three main and closely intertwined tracks, such as politics and security, economy and finance, and culture and humanitarian exchanges.

Economic interaction remains the most solid foundation for unification among the three, because the growing economic influence of the participating states, and their importance as the main driving force behind the global economy, remains the basis for the Big Five's influence on the international arena. The fact that India and China are record holders in terms of growth rates for several years now is a known fact. We also take into account such factors as the population size, vast potential for innovation and rich natural resources of the Big Five.

We are united in our assessments of the current state of affairs in the global economy and finance. We joined efforts in our search for new sources of economic growth. We operate on the premise that the scale and nature of modern economic challenges suggest that it is only possible to develop in collaboration, building up cooperation ties which can be most effectively done as part of transparent multilateral institutions.

BRICS is working to reform the global financial and economic architecture, which has become obsolete. We are working at the UN, the G20 and the IMF, where the BRICS countries have 14.75 per cent of votes. We need another 0.25 per cent to have a blocking stake. We stand for an open, equal and mutually beneficial multilateral trade system and the WTO's role as its foundation. We continue to look for alternatives to the current domination of the global economy by a limited number of "old" reserve currencies. This is why we have created the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement with an aggregate nominal capital of $200 billion.

Of course, we want our companies to receive practical benefits from Russia's involvement in the BRICS' strategic partnership and the five countries' mechanisms that have been established in a number of industries that are of vital importance for our business.

I hope that today we will discuss some better and more effective ways to use the institutions and tools created within the BRICS framework, including in the interests of the Russian business community. What reserves are available? What do we need additionally? These issues should be discussed with due regard for the specific approaches of each of the five countries.

The Ninth BRICS Summit, which was held in Xiamen, China, three months ago, produced very good results. It has shown that the group is entering its second decade with a major package of concrete and useful initiatives. At our meeting in Xiamen, we reported major progress in implementing the BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership, which was adopted at the Ufa Summit in 2015 and which defines the points of economic connectivity for years ahead. Today we will discuss not only the implementation of our decisions but also ways to promote the new Russian initiatives during South Africa's BRICS presidency in 2018.

I would like to say that we highly value the role of our relevant agencies, primarily the Economic Development Ministry and the Finance Ministry. The Russian members of the BRICS Business Council led by President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sergey Katyrin are making a major contribution to cooperation between the five BRICS countries.

As I have said, I would like to focus on multilateral projects today. We maintain extensive and intense contacts with each of the BRICS countries, but in this context we would like to discuss projects that involve three, four, or better still, all the five BRICS countries.

In conclusion, I would like to say that BRICS and its economic dimension continue to enjoy demand in any global economic situation. Its main goal is to enhance the living standards in the G5 countries. Of critical importance in this connection is the work of the Russian business community, which can make efficient use of the mutually complementary BRICS economies in the interests of their sustainable development.
Press release on the meeting of the Foreign Ministry's Business Council (О заседании Делового совета при Министре иностранных дел Российской Федерации) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, sergey_lavrov

On December 18, Sergey Lavrov chaired a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry's Business Council. The participants discussed the future of economic cooperation within the BRICS interstate association. The meeting was attended by senior officials of Russian ministries and agencies, as well as representatives of major Russian business associations, large companies and banks.

It was noted that promoting strategic partnership within the BRICS in all three key areas – politics and security, economy and finance, and cultural and humanitarian exchanges – remains a priority for Russia's foreign policy. At the same time, economic cooperation is still an important base of the association's activities because of the growing influence of the five BRICS member states as a leading global development force with large populations, innovative potential and abundant natural resources.

Special attention went to utilising BRICS institutions and mechanisms for the benefit of Russian businesses, launching multilateral cooperation projects within BRICS and promoting coordination between state agencies and the business community. The participants stressed the need to continue eliminating existing barriers for the development of trade and investment cooperation for the mutual benefit between the five states.

The participants of the meeting also discussed the implementation of the decisions of the ninth BRICS Summit, which took place this September in Xiamen, as well as working plans within BRICS for 2018, during the chairmanship of the Republic of South Africa.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Russia and China Lay Economic Foundation Based on Golden Rule (Россия и Китай положили начало экономическому фонду на основе золотого правила) / USA, December, 2017
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion, trade_relations
Author: Rory Hall

One of the many themes we support at The Daily Coin is the constant progress happening across the emerging markets, especially the nations involved the Eastern economic alliances like BRICS, BRI, SCO, EAEU and the like. These nations under the direction of China or Russia or a combination are laying the groundwork to be the driving force of the 21st Century and beyond.

We also continually report on gold moving from Western vaults to all points East. Most recently we discussed Kazakhstan and the importance of this nation both from a geographical position as well as natural resources like gold, rare earths and a wide variety of other elements within the borders of this growing nation.

Gold always has our attention as the rules/laws surrounding gold have not changed. While most people, especially in the West, have forgotten these rules that does not mean they have changed or been overturned.

One law that has stood the test of time is the golden rule – he who has the gold makes the rules. We also like the fact that JPMorgan, the man not the bank, stated in a congressional hearing that "gold is money and everything else is credit." These two rules/laws working in conjunction with one another make for a formidable alliance. When you have natural rules/laws working together and nations begin forming alliances using these rules/laws as a foundation the rest of the world should take notice, but alas the Western world is more focused on "Russia did it" than what Russia is actually doing.

We (the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the People's Bank of China) discussed gold trading. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are major economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of the precious metal. In China, gold is traded in Shanghai, and in Russia in Moscow. Our idea is to create a link between these cities so as to intensify gold trading between our markets. Source

At this point it is well documented that China and Russia have been acquiring gold, swapping gold between countries through each nation's banking system, and recently announced their intentions to assist the three other BRICS (Brazil, India and South Africa) nations in building their gold reserves. China and Russia also announced their desire to open BRICS gold exchange/markets in Beijing and Moscow. Why all this focus on acquiring gold, storing gold and assisting other nations in doing the same? It has been made very clear, by President Putin and the Russian government, that Russia sees the Federal Reserve Note as a threat to their national security and decreasing their dependence on Federal Reserve Notes as trade settlement is a top priority.

Now we see the golden fruit of Russia's gold acquisition efforts in 2017 as being the biggest year ever since Russia began reporting their gold holdings.

In November the Central Bank of Russia added 900,000 ounces (27.99 tons) of gold to her reserves, raising her total to 1828.88 tons or 58.8 million ounces. In October 2017, the Central Bank of Russia added 700,000 ounces (21.77243 tons) of gold to her reserves. In September 2017, the Central Bank of Russia added 1.1 million ounces (34.2138 tons). In August 2017, the Central Bank of Russia added 500,000 ounces (15.55 tons) of gold to her reserves (56.1 million ounces). In July, the Central Bank of Russia added 400,000 ounces (12.44139 tonnes) of gold to reserves after adding 300,000 ounces (9.33104 tonnes) of gold in June and 700,000 (21.77 tonnes) of gold in May. In April, the Central Bank of Russia added 200,000 ounces (6.22 tonnes) after adding 800,000 ounces (24.882 tonnes)in March, 300,000 ounces (9.331043 tonnes) in February and 1,000,000 ounces (31.104 tonnes) in January. Source

At the current pace Russia will pass China in global gold holdings and take the sixth position within the first 2-3 months of 2018. This simply shows how aggressive Russia is towards acquiring gold. Also of note, if Russia continues this pace of acquisitions she will pass France in early-mid 2021 and be in 5th position, assuming that China doesn't, once again, begin adding to their "official" gold holdings. We believe China is adding gold to her gold holdings each month, just not to the "official" gold holdings that are reported to the IMF.

Rory Hall's site is The Daily Coin, where this article first appeared. Beginning in 1987 Rory has written over 1,000 articles and produced more than 300 videos on topics ranging from the precious metals market, economic and monetary policies, preparedness as well as geopolitical events. His articles have been published by Zerohedge, SHTFPlan, Sprott Money, GoldSilver, Silver Doctors, SGTReport, and a great many more. Rory was a producer and daily contributor at SGTReport between 2012 and 2014. He has interviewed experts such as Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Dr. Marc Faber, Eric Sprott, Gerald Celente and Peter Schiff, to name but a few. Don't forget to visit The Daily Coin and Shadow of Truth YouTube channels to enjoy original videos and some of the best economic, precious metals, geopolitical and preparedness news from around the world.
China plans to break petrodollar stranglehold (Китай планирует покончить с железной хваткой нефтедоллара) / Pakistan, December, 2017
Keywords: economic_challenges, trade_relations, expert_opinion

Petrodollars have dominated the global energy markets for more than 40 years. But now, China is looking to change that by replacing the word dollars for yuan. Nations, of course, have tried this before since the system was set up by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in tandem with the House of Saud back in 1974

Vast populations across the Middle East and Northern Africa quickly felt the consequences when Iraq's Saddam Hussein decided to sell oil in euros. Then there was Libya's Muammar Gaddafi's pan-African gold dinar blueprint, which failed to create a splash in an oil barrel.

Fast forward 25 years and China is making a move to break the United States petrodollar stranglehold. The plan is to set up oil-futures trading in the yuan, which will be fully convertible into gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong foreign exchange markets.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange and its subsidiary, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE), have already run four simulations for crude futures.

It was expected to be rolled out by the end of this year, but that looks unlikely to happen. But when it does get off the ground in 2018, the fundamentals will be clear – this triple oil-yuan-gold route will bypass the mighty green back.

The era of the petroyuan will be at hand.

Still, there are questions on how Beijing will technically set up a rival futures market in crude oil to Brent and WTI, and how China's capital controls will influence it.

Bejing has been quite discreet on this. The petroyuan was not even mentioned in the National Development and Reform Commission documents following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party last October.

What is certain is that the BRICS, the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, did support the petroyuan move at their summit in Xiamen earlier this year. Diplomats confirmed that to Asia Times.

Venezuela is also on board. It is crucial to remember that Russia is number two and Venezuela is number seven among the world's Top 10 oil producers. Beijing already has close economic ties with Moscow, while it is distinctly possible that other producers will join the club.

"This contract has the potential to greatly help China's push for yuan internationalization," Yao Wei, chief China economist at Societe Generale in Paris, said when he hit the nail firmly on the head.

An extensive report by DBS in Singapore also hits most of the right notes, linking the internationalization of the yuan with the expansion of the grandiose Belt and Road Initiative.

Next year, six major BRI projects will be on the table.

Mega infrastructure developments will include the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the China-Laos railway and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway. The other key projects will be the Hungary-Serbia railway, the Melaka Gateway project in Malaysia and the upgrading of Gwadar port in Pakistan.

HSBC has estimated that the expansive Belt and Road program will generate no less than an additional, game-changing US$2.5 trillion worth of new trade a year.

It is important to remember that the "belt" in BRI is a series of corridors connecting Eastern China with oil-gas rich regions in Central Asia and the Middle East. The high-speed rail networks, or new "Silk Roads", will simply traverse regions filled with, what else, un-mined gold.

But a key to the future of the petroyuan will revolve around the House of Saud, and what it will do. Should the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, also known as MBS, follow Russia's lead? If it did, this would be one of the paradigm shifts of the century.

Yet there are signs of what could happen. Yuan-denominated gold contracts will be traded not only in Shanghai and Hong Kong but also in Dubai. Saudi Arabia is also considering issuing so-called Panda bonds, with close ally, the United Arab Emirates, taking the lead in the Middle East for Chinese interbank bonds.

Of course, the prelude to D-Day will be when the House of Saud officially announces it accepts the yuan for at least part of its exports to China. But what is clear is that Saudi Arabia simply cannot afford to alienate Beijing as one of its top customers.

In the end, it will be China which will dictate future terms. That may include extra pressure for Beijing's participation in Aramco's IPO. In parallel, Washington would see Riyadh embracing the petroyuan as the ultimate red line.

An independent European report pointed to what might be Beijing's trump card – "an authorization to issue treasury bills in yuan by Saudi Arabia" as well as the creation of a Saudi investment fund and a 5% share of Aramco.

Nations hit hard by US sanctions, such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela, will be among the first to embrace the petroyuan. Smaller producers, such as Angola and Nigeria, are already selling oil and gas to the world's second largest economy in Chinese currency.

As for nations involved in the new "Silk Roads" program that are not oil exporters such as Pakistan, the least they can do is replace the dollar in bilateral trade. This is what Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal is currently mulling over.

Of course, there will be a "push back" from the US. The dollar is still the global currency, even though it might have lost some of luster in the past decade.

But the BRICS, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, or SCO, which includes prospective members Iran and Turkey, are increasingly settling bilateral and multilateral trade by bypassing the green back.

In the end, it will not be over until the fat (golden) lady sings. When the beginning of the end of the petrodollar system becomes a fact, watch out for a US counterpunch.

NDB Board of Governors Approves Appointment of Bank's Vice President (Совет управляющих НБР одобрил назначение вице-президента банка) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: ndb

The Board of Governors of the New Development Bank approved the appointment of Mr. Sarquis José Buainain Sarquis as Vice President on December 14, 2017.

Mr. Sarquis J. B. Sarquis has held several positions at the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil since 1991. More recently, he has been Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy in Tokyo and, previously, he was Minister-Counsellor for economic and OECD affairs at the Brazilian Embassy in Paris.

Over his career, as a Brazilian diplomat, Mr. Sarquis has been responsible for economic negotiations and policy analysis, in the fields of international trade and investments, development, international finance, macroeconomics and monetary affairs. In this capacity, he has also been a delegate to various intergovernmental conferences – at the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD and the United Nations (ECLAC and UNCTAD). He received his MSc degree and a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE) and holds a BSc in Electronic Engineering from the Polytechnic School of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Sarquis J. B. Sarquis was granted research prizes, such as the Gilbert de Botton Award in Finance Research.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
South Africa: The Rise of Ramaphosa (Южная Африка: Восстание Рамафозы) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: political_issues

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) of BRICS member South Africa chose its next party leader in advance of the 2019 elections, though Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's selection occurred after a controversial court intervention is thought to have narrowly thrown the election to his favor.

Three provincial courts ruled right before the party's national conference began that dozens of delegates were disqualified from attending because their elections were illegal, and the timing of this last-minute decision made some people think that it was designed to work against the interests of Rampaphosa's rival, President Jacob Zuma's ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whom the banned representatives reportedly backed.

The thin margin of victory that Ramaphosa eventually received of less than 200 votes adds credence to the speculation that the outcome might have been different had the courts not intervened. At the same time, however, Ramaphosa's supporters say that the ruling preserved the integrity of the elections, because the legitimacy of Dlamini-Zuma's possible victory would have been thrown into doubt had the courts made their decision afterwards and found that her delegates were ineligible to participate in the first place. There are others, however, who say that no court case should have been commenced against the delegates in the first place, further muddying the waters and adding a touch of conspiracy to the conference's outcome.

Despite the controversy, the end result is that Ramaphosa is now the head of the ANC, thus giving him an opportunity to reinvent the party according to his vision. The Deputy President has presented himself as an anti-corruption crusader who will clean house and revitalize the economy with his pro-business acumen, which has earned him loud applause from international investors and financiers. He plans to take the country in a dramatically different direction than Dlamini-Zuma had promised; since she said she'd continue her ex-husband's left-leaning legacy while Ramaphosa is getting ready to reform it just like how some of his right-wing counterparts are doing throughout the former socialist states that they recently came to power in.

Ramaphosa's leadership of the ANC is an important topic to discuss because of the international implications that it could have for South Africa's BRICS membership if he succeeds in coming to power, whether as a result of the 2019 elections or possibly even beforehand in the event that President Zuma is deposed by one of his many and seemingly never-ending scandals.

Kwanele Mkheswa, political commentator from Nkayi, based in Johannesburg stopped by to share his views.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Major BRICS innovation award for software developed to analyze 3D scans of urban infrastructure (Крупнейшая награда БРИКС за программное обеспечение, разработанное для анализа 3D-сканирования городской инфраструктуры) / India, December, 2017
Keywords: innovations

The task of archiving objects that are important for historical, scientific, or cultural reasons is one that has been made significantly easier and more efficient recently as a result of 3D technology. We reported not long ago on a project that will see the establishment of a major archive composed of 3D scans of animal anatomies, for research and educational purposes. In a similar vein, a team of researchers from Russia, China and India have started developing software that will allow for the 3D scanning of urban infrastructure, and they have already received an award for their work.

The project is being undertaken by specialists from Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU), in collaboration with the East China Normal University and the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. The team was the winner of an International Scientific Consortiums prize in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation. This is part of a programme organized by the BRICS association, a group of recently industrialized, emerging national economies: Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa. The BRICS STI Framework Programme was established in 2015 as a way to facilitate internatonal cooperation, in order to find solutions to issues relating to sustainable agriculture, food security, natural disasters, water resources, pollution treatment and more.

"In cooperation with our foreign colleagues, we analyze the point clouds, obtained by laser scanner survey technologies and develop the software that enables to recognize the particular features of the materials, the texture of the objects and its changes. Our developments can be used for monitoring and repair of the road infrastructure, as well as on the preservation of objects of cultural and historical heritage", said Vladimir Badenko, professor of Institute of Civil Engineering SPbPU.

The software that is being developed is intended to analyze the raw data captured by 3D laser scanning technology and photography, into useful information about objects that make up the urban infrastructure. This software will prove invaluable for all stages of the objects' lifecycles, as the information can be used for early detection of defects, building information modelling as well as renovation projects.

The first stage of processing the data is the transformation of the object imaging into point clouds of suitable density. For these point clouds' visualization, researchers first create image projections and then combine them with photography data. This significantly improves the quality of the segmentation of laser scanning point clouds. Using these projections for object modeling enables the display all three-dimensional data on a two-dimensional plane, i.e. the computer screen. This also allows the improvement and optimization of the image quality as well as processing speed. In addition, the process helps with the adjustment of the object to the required display scale, and helps users to obtain the most accurate image of a particular part of the infrastructure, without shadows or other noisy elements.

As well as using the team's specially developed software for this project, a significant amount of the urban infrastructure data will be processed using the facilities of the 'Polytechnic' Supercomputer Center, at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. This is not the first time this institution has been at the forefront of developments in 3D technology. Its commitment to innovation in this field was demonstrated recently with the production of a electric generator expansion turbine, using 3D printing. This is part of a growing footprint for Russia as a whole, in cutting-edge sustainable energies as well as additive manufacturing.
Writers Call for Better Understanding at BRICS Literature Forum (Писатели выступают за лучшее понимание на Литературном форуме БРИКС) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: social_issues

During the 9th BRICS Summit held in September this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more exchanges among the people of the BRICS countries, namely - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Now a few months later, writers and literary critics from these five member states have gathered in the Chinese city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, to work on expanding cultural collaborations.

"I'm here as a writer, representing South Africa in the BRICS Literature Forum, which is big, quite exciting, and it's an opening."

This is Niq Mhlongo, a Johannesburg-based novelist.

He is among some 30 writers being invited to the 2017 BRICS Literature Forum, a gathering that celebrates the diverse literary expressions from the five countries.

Zheng Yanxiong, an official from the Guangdong Provincial Publicity Department, explains why literature could call up the spirit of cooperation.

"The collaboration among the BRICS countries should not be confined to the economic domain. It can be expanded to the cultural field. Literature is inspired by social life and social production. Since the BRICS nations are at a similar level of economic development, there are more common interests in terms of literary creation."

Running for three days, the Forum has attracted a star-studded line-up of international literary heavyweights. To name a few, there are Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan, Man Booker Prize nominee Su Tong, and celebrated Indian writer Mridula Garg.

From panel discussions to reading events, how to better understand one another has become a main theme of the event.

Irina Balmetova is the editor-in-chief of October, a Russian art and literary magazine.

"In recent years, we have worked closely with a Chinese literary magazine, which is also called 'October.' We have assigned topics, such as stories of Beijing or Moscow tales, to authors of each country; and then we have translated those works and published them on each other's journal at the same time. It's a way to tell the wonderful stories of China and Russia."

Indian author Pratishtha Singh says that since BRICS countries are all facing new challenges in the 21st century, inclusion should be the key concern for writers of these five nations.

"The very concept of a 'new era', an era which includes traditions in the contemporary world, according to me, is associated with the concept of inclusion. What I mean by inclusion is that people from different backgrounds, upbringings, and nations need to come together in harmony. In the glorious land of Confucius, a philosopher (whose works) I have read for a really long time and appreciated, with thousands of years of wisdom and knowledge in this land, I feel that great civilizations like the Chinese (one) can show a path of harmonious inclusion to the world. "
BRICS Literature Forum facilitates more cultural exchanges (Литературный форум БРИКС облегчает культурные обмены) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: social_issues

Following the fruitful BRICS National Summit held in Xiamen, Fujian province in September, South China was greeted by another international cultural gathering last week in Zhuhai of Guangdong province, marking a big step toward literary communication among the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Taking place on the Zhuhai campus of Beijing Normal University, the forum invited nearly 40 writers and scholars from all five BRICS countries to share their voices and inspire new thinking on the future of both domestic and world literature.

New era, new experience, new vision

In the keynote speech by novelist Mo Yan, the Nobel Prize laureate proposed a new vision for world literature that centers on its unadorned appeal to humanity.

"Our world has witnessed a lot of transformations in the past four decades. Old experiences and understandings were overturned. But puzzles just seem to keep coming. It's the calling of every generation of writers to figure out a new way of writing."

Mo then quoted his late friend Shi Tiesheng, a renowned Chinese novelist with a paralysis of both legs, that "infinity is created in our minds. Only by looking into our hearts can we truly find a new perspective, a new story."

Jidi Majia, vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers Association, added a layer of cultural significance to the cooperation among BRICS countries. "BRICS, which represents great vitality and a bright future, has made its name in the global community," he said.

"Regular communication should penetrate various aspects of our nations, especially for cultural exchanges. As President Xi once said, we should 'create a community of shared future for mankind.'"

Translation fosters transnational literature

To enhance cross-cultural literary exchanges, translation and translator must build bridges overcoming language barriers. Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha, president of the Brazilian Association of Comparative Literature, placed the task of translating at the center of transnational literatures.

"Translators' work goes across cultures and literatures," Rocha said. "For instance, two Brazilian writers, Machado de Assis and Haroldo de Campos, introduced many Chinese traditional poems to Brazilian readers based upon translations from other languages. I think this is a key element in transnational literatures."

He also suggested that fostering transnational literary works calls for major investments in a translation networks consisting of writers, poets, and translators. "Let us offer more space and possibilities for our different experiences, so together we can create a brave new world."

Current imbalances and challenges

Novelist Han Shaogong commented upon challenges in the development of world literature, such as the lack of extensive influence of works written in minority languages and the imbalance of translation talent among different countries. He proposed the notion of "multiple globalization of literature" where all cultures are engaged.

Yuri Mikhailovich Polyakov, chief editor of Literature, an influential Russian journal, analyzed this phenomenon from a Russian perspective and pointed out some difficulties of introducing Chinese literature into Russia, including the limited number of Chinese experts in Russia. "Translation is a tough mission. We need people who comprehend Chinese culture and Chinese literary criticism very well to complete this task. But there aren't enough experts in Russia to do that."

He introduced how current Russian translations of Chinese literature place great importance on award-winning and mostly contemporary works. "I think Chinese literary classics, those have been passed down for generations, deserve more attention from translators and readers in Russia."

Professor Zhang Jianhua from Beijing Foreign Studies University mentioned a rising trend in literature between China and Russia. The two countries have accelerated the pace of exchanges among writers and works since the implementation of the Chinese and Russian literature translation project in 2013. "This forum proves our cooperation will be more frequent and dynamic," Zhang said.

A brave new world

Indian poet Sukrita Paul Jumar expressed that literature demonstrates the consciousness of contemporary society, making its exchanges even more important. "Bridges through translations must be built for greater understanding amongst people on different linguistic territories within the same country, amongst BRICS countries in particular, and the world in general."

South African writer and journalist Niq Mhlongo saw this event as an opportunity to reform the world with humanitarianism. Literature, according to him, helps society heal from the historical wounds of segregation. He described how a new generation of African writers are emerging in South Africa. Their works have won prestigious prizes like the Berlin Literature Prize (Berliner Literaturpreis).

"It is a matter of pride that we, the BRICS nations, have gathered here to share ideas and philosophies on literature and culture," said Pratishtha Singh, an Indian writer and poet. She interpreted the forum's theme "new era" as referring to the concept of inclusion in all spheres of life.

"In the glorious land of Confucius, with thousands of years of wisdom and knowledge, I feel that great civilizations like the Chinese can show the path of harmonious inclusion to the world," Singh said during her speech.
Made on