Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 50.2021
2021.12.13 — 2021.12.19
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Will China and Its E7 Emerging Economies Render the G7 a Redundant Clique? (Сможет ли Китай и его страны с формирующейся рыночной экономикой E7 превратить G7 в лишнюю клику?) / China, December, 2021
Keywords: political issues

What is the E7?

The Emerging 7 (E7) consists of the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China plus Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey.

Unlike the Group of 7 (G7), the E7 is not an actual forum nor alliance, but merely a concept created by economists John Hawksworth and Gordon Cookson in 2006 to highlight the economic potential of emerging countries versus advanced economies.

In comparison, the G7 was created in 1973 and includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, while the European Union is also represented.

Invitations were also extended to India, Australia, South Africa and South Korea at the most recent summit held in Britain in June.

Some economists have suggested that more attention should be paid to the E7, whose growth rates have exceeded that of the G7 over the past two decades.

How does the E7 compare with the G7 in economic terms?

In 1995, the E7 was half the size of the G7 in economic terms, but by 2015, the E7 was around the same size as the G7. By 2040, the E7 could be double the size of the G7, according to PwC.

Six of the seven largest economies in the world may be emerging economies in 2050. While the International Monetary Fund estimated that three G7 members were among the world's top seven economies in 2016, PwC predicts that only the US will remain on the list by 2050.

China is expected to lead the rankings and account for 20 per cent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) based on purchasing power parity, followed by India, the US, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia and Mexico.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Nigeria are expected to experience the greatest improvement in their ranking.

However, in terms of GDP per capita, China is expected to remain third in 2050, as it was in 2016, meaning the income gap between G7 and E7 countries is likely to prevail.

How is the G7 perceived in China?

The purpose and intention of the G7 has been increasingly questioned by the Chinese public amid rising tensions with its member states.

As the G7 summit in Cornwall in June sought to unify the West's stand against China on various issues, some netizens said that the G7 is reminiscent of the Eight-Nation Alliance – a military coalition that invaded northern China in 1900.

Popular digital artist Bantonglaoatang in June created a satirical cartoon critiquing the event. The cartoon, which went viral on social media, was based on The Last Supper Renaissance painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.

In the cartoon, Jesus and the 12 apostles are replaced by animals representing the US, UK, Italy, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Australia and India sitting around a table with a cake representing China.

It is also often noted by Chinese netizens that non-Western countries should not be excluded nor minimised in global conversations. They point out that there are more UN member states that back China on controversial issues than those that condemn it, including over contentious matters related to alleged human rights abuse in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Is the G7 really a united front against China?

Not all G7 members advocate for a hostile attitude towards China. France, Italy and Germany, in particular, "disagree with taking China as an enemy", according to Song Luzheng, an international relations researcher at Fudan University.

"It's very important that we don't scatter ourselves and that we don't bias our relationship with China," French President Emmanuel Macron said during the G7 summit earlier this year.

Italy, which in 2019 became the first G7 nation to sign up to China's flagship Belt and Road Initiative, has maintained lukewarm relations with China. During recent high-level talks between the two countries, they committed to practicing multilateralism and jointly coping with global challenges.

Germany's amicable relationship with China may change, as Chancellor Angela Merkel retires next month and the Green Party, which has criticised the incumbent for being too soft on China, will take charge of the foreign ministry.

What is the relationship between China and the other E7 countries?

Relations between China and India have been tense amid aggressive border skirmishes. India has also banned almost 200 Chinese apps, including widely used social media platforms WeChat, TikTok and Sina Weibo, citing security concerns. They signed an agreement with the US last year to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

China-Indonesia relations have been largely stable and positive since the 1990s. However, increased military cooperation with the US amid its tensions with China has raised concerns. Jakarta received around US$45 million from Washington to finance its military between 2016 and 2020, and a further US$3.5 million for a new maritime training centre, amid the US's ongoing battle with China for influence in Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and Mexico have all increased economic cooperation with China.

Russia, in particular, has stepped up its military cooperation with China. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in a recent meeting agreed to expand cooperation through strategic exercises and joint patrols in the Asia-Pacific, according to Russia's Ministry of Defence.

Cyril Ip joined the Post as a Graduate Trainee Reporter in 2021 after earning a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Bristol. Prior to joining the newspaper, he wrote for Young Post and interned at the Trade Development Council and the New People's Party.
Banking on Each Other: India, Russia and the New Era of Global Politics (Ставка друг на друга: Индия, Россия и новая эра мировой политики) / India, December, 2021
Keywords: political issues, cooperation, partnership

The narrative of a widening strategic gap between New Delhi and Moscow has been prevalent for some time now. Even within the strategic communities of Russia and India, there is an ongoing assessment of the importance of this bilateral engagement. Ahead of the India-Russia summit, this article delves into what is working for the relationship between the two nations, and what needs to be worked on.

It would be fair to say that the essential glue keeping the two together is strategic legacy. It is supplemented by a contemporary strand of political convergence in a world where both South Block and the Kremlin are actors, but also being acted upon.

One of India's primary objectives in the coming decades is to prevent China's hegemony in Asia. A multipolar world and a multipolar Asia are in its interest. Russia will strongly endorse this, and, for differing reasons, seek it. In its calculus, it would position the US as the principal protagonist to thwart. The Russians would not want to curtail China if that ends up enabling US influence. Therefore, there is a big picture convergence on a multipolar world order, even as India and Russia differ on relative roles of the poles shaping this order.

This could change dramatically if Russia were to reach the conclusion that it is happy to sit in the court of the Emperor in Beijing as a junior partner. India sees this as unlikely. It hopes for a more independent Russian worldview that would not hesitate to differ with others, including China, in defence of its own interests. New Delhi is, therefore, continuing to invest substantially in this relationship, and in a number of areas.

The first and biggest is defence. As of 2020, Russian weapons systems and equipment accounted for about 60 per cent of the inventory of the Indian armed forces. While India is determinedly diversifying sourcing of military hardware, Russia remains a strong legacy player. Much of this is driven by spares and component upgrades. However, there have also been significant new ventures. These include the S-400 missile contract (on track for first deliveries this year); manufacture and co-production of four Project 1135.6 Frigates; manufacture of the world's most advanced assault rifle – the AK-203 – under the 'Make in India' initiative; and additional deliveries of T-90s, Sukhoi-30 MKI, MiG-29, MANGO ammunition and VSHORAD systems. Russia is more involved with the 'Make in India' initiative in defence equipment than any other country.

Simultaneously, exercises have also increased in numbers and sophistication. As he demitted office as Indian Ambassador in Russia, DB Venkatesh Varma pointed out that the two nations were exploring different formats – including mobilisation of forces and their transportation across long distances, impact of drone technology on modern warfare, and impact of cyber on future of conflict. The landscape for doctrinal coordination and understanding is ever expanding.

The second area of convergence is energy. This includes not only hydrocarbons (oil and gas), but also nuclear. While India does import gas from Russia, a rapid increase is on the cards. If successful, the Vostok negotiations will bring India into one of the world's biggest energy projects. India aims to increase import of oil from Russia, currently 1 per cent of all imports, to 4 or 5 per cent in the next five years. Another avenue is petrochemicals, where a Russian investment in the Paradip cracker plant and an Indian investment in Arctic LNG-2 are being explored.

With India announcing its net zero target date, the need to transition to greener energy sources has become imperative. A new Gas Task Force will bring in Russia as a major partner, including in the field of hydrogen.

The third area of mutual interest is high-technology. A proposal to establish a Joint Commission on Science and Technology Cooperation is being explored. It would encompass hi-tech areas like quantum, nanotechnology, cyber, AI, robotics, space and bio-technology. Pharmaceuticals, digital finance, chemicals and ceramics are all potential economic drivers of the relationship. Each of these is at the core of the fourth industrial revolution.

The fourth area of significance is food security. India leasing land in the Russian Far East, and cultivating it with Indian labour, offers a tantalising prospect. Russia is going through a demographic crisis and has notable human resources deficits. China has leased thousands of hectares of land in the Russian Far East. This is cultivated by Chinese farmers, whose produce is partially sold in the Russian domestic market and partially exported to China.

A similar strategy can be followed by India. The government could negotiate an enabling arrangement with Russia but leave it to the private sector to execute. The Chennai-Vladivostok maritime connectivity corridor enhances scope for such cooperation.

This strategy would be a genuine win-win. India would contribute to its food security by reducing load on its resources (land, water, electricity) and providing opportunities to its excess farm labour. For Russia, dependency on China would come down, giving Moscow the strategic leverage that it needs and wants.

And here is where India needs to answer a strategic question. Is it willing to invest in the Russia story just as we celebrate Russia's engagement with "Make in India"? India must write itself into the development text of the Far East and other parts of Russia through investments and expertise. There could be no stronger foundation for the relationship.

There is also an urgent need to overcome some recent angularities. The first is Afghanistan. At least till 15 August 2021, India and Russia had a serious disagreement, with Moscow unabashedly flirting with the Taliban. While both countries want stability in Afghanistan and curbs on export of terrorism and drugs, the perception in New Delhi is Moscow's negotiators with the Taliban (outlawed in Russia – InfoBRICS) ended up become negotiators for the Taliban. That is a credibility problem for Russia to ponder.

The second divergence is on the Indo-Pacific. It boils down to lack of trust. Russia does not trust India vis-à-vis the US, and India hears Russia reading from China's script. This is a challenge to be addressed. Either country is the other's flexibility mechanism, an arrangement that has stood the test of time. Russia's 'Greater Eurasia' project and the Indo-Pacific are complementary and describe the same emergence: Of a new political moment and of a political geography that will seek a new alignment of interests and actors. Even as India and Russia carve new relationships, their sturdy partnership is a bank guarantee for both. President Vladimir Putin's visit to India is only his second trip abroad since the beginning of the pandemic. The first was to Geneva earlier this summer, for a summit with President Joe Biden. Coming to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hugely symbolic and strategic. It indicates that the President knows India allows him a more equal partnership with China, even as Russia offers India room for its own endeavours.

Samir Saran is the President of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), India's premier think tank, headquartered in New Delhi. His research focuses on issues of global governance, climate change and energy policy, technology and media, and India's foreign policy. Samir completed his doctoral studies at the Global Sustainability Institute, UK. He holds a Masters degree in Media Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, and a Bachelors in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, India.
Fourth meeting of BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas (Четвертая встреча шерп и су-шерп БРИКС) / India, December, 2021
Keywords: cooperation, top_level_meeting

BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas held their fourth and concluding meeting under India's Chairship during the year 2021, on 15 December 2021. The meeting was chaired by Secretary (CPV&OIA) Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya as India's BRICS Sherpa.

2. The meeting provided an opportunity to review the activities held this year. For its Chairship, India had chosen the theme 'BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus' with the following priorities – (i) Reform of the Multilateral System; (ii) Counter Terrorism cooperation; (iii) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for attaining SDGs; and (iv) Enhancing People to People exchanges.

3. The XIII BRICS Summit took place on 9 September 2021 in virtual format. The leaders adopted the Delhi Declaration which reaffirmed their commitment to fight the Covid pandemic, deepened the collaborative efforts of BRICS countries on political-security, economic and cultural fronts and gave new vitality to BRICS.

4. The BRICS Foreign Ministers in their meeting in June 2021 adopted the Joint Statement on Strengthening and Reforming the Multilateral System to make global governance more responsive and agile, effective, transparent, democratic, representative and accountable to Member States. The revised BRICS Terms of Reference were adopted by Sherpas in September 2021 reiterating their commitment to preserving and further strengthening the consensus-based working methods in BRICS at all levels.

5. During the year, nearly 150 BRICS meetings and events were organized, of which about 20 were held at Ministerial level. Intra-BRICS cooperation was extended to new areas, such as the inaugural BRICS Digital Health Summit and the 1st Meeting of BRICS Water Ministers.

6. Other achievements of India's Chairship included - BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan, operationalization of the Agricultural Research Platform, signing of Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Remote-sensing Satellites Constellation, finalization of BRICS Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, and finalization of Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Regulation of Medical Products for Human Use.

7. During the BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas meeting, the BRICS Gavel and Handover Report were passed over to China. China also presented its priorities for its BRICS Chairship which will commence from 1 January 2022.

8. BRICS partners commended India's BRICS Chairship in 2021. They appreciated the activities undertaken, despite the constraint of COVID-19 restrictions, which have led to further strengthening of intra-BRICS cooperation while reinforcing the principles of continuity, consolidation, and consensus. They acknowledged that BRICS Strategic Partnership was strengthened during the year for the mutual benefit of our countries and our people. BRICS partners agreed to extend full support to China for its forthcoming BRICS Chairship in 2022. India thanked its BRICS partners for their constructive engagement during its Chairship year, during which BRICS has emerged stronger and more vibrant.
The Growing Russia-China Relationship (Отношения между Китаем и Россией крепнут) / China, December, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation, quotation

Under the pressure of US sanctions, threats, aggression and an imposed Second Cold War, the Russia-China relationship is growing closer and closer.

Personal Relationship

On December 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a virtual summit. XI welcomed his "old friend," and Putin greeted his "dear friend."

Their greetings to each other were neither scripted nor posturing for the West. In June 2018, Putin told an interviewer that "President XI Jinping is probably the only world leader I have celebrated one of my birthdays with." He added that XI"is a very reliable partner." For his part, XI has called Putin "my best, most intimate friend."

But the growing relationship is not just a friendship between the leaders of the people of the two countries. It is also a growing friendship between the people of the two countries. Relations between Russia and China were not always good. In 2016, before the intense US pressure started pushing the two countries together, only 34% of Russians viewed China favorably; in 2019, 84% saw China as "more a partner than a rival."

International Relationship

Russia and China have also partnered as the leaders of an important new set of international organizations, like the BRICS nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Both of these organizations are intended to balance US hegemony and exceptionalism in international politics. Both of these organizations are huge, each representing nearly half the world, and both are led by Russia and China as the principal partners. Both also include India. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization represents a quarter of the world's economy and four of its nuclear powers.

In their virtual summit, Putin and XI discussed the possibility of a three way summit with India, a member of both BRICS and the SCO: a message the US must surely be listening to as it forces nations to choose sides in the new Cold War.

Bilateral Relationship

But most important is the increasingly tight bilateral relationship between Russia and China.

The modern Russia-China relationship was first contracted with the he Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, in which the two nations commit not to enter into "any alliance or be party to any bloc . . . which compromises the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other. . .. " Dmitri Trenin, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center explains the relationship as one in which, though Russia and China "do not have to follow each other," they "will never go against each other."

But Putin said in his June 2018 interview that that treaty "is only the foundation we have built our current relationship on." He said that, building on that foundation, the structure is "growing taller and stronger."

It grew much stronger on June 5, 2019, when according to Alexander Lukin of HSE University in Moscow, Russia and China signed a joint statement announcing a "comprehensive and strategic interaction." Russia is "officially developing," Lukin says, "a 'strategic partnership' with Beijing, making China not only a friend, but practically an ally."

The wording is important. Russia and China both want a world that transcends blocs, and they are reluctant to enter into formal alliances or blocs. They are more than friends and practically allies. Striving for an ambiguous formulation that doesn't commit to being a bloc or an alliance while implying something more than a bloc or an alliance, in his June 2018 interview, Putin described Russia's relationship with China as "a relationship that probably cannot be compared with anything in the world."

Echoing and strengthening that rhetorical ambiguity, in their virtual summit, Chinese President XI Jinping described a relationship that is growing ever closer when he said "this relationship even exceeds an alliance in its closeness and effectiveness."

In a personal correspondence, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who prepared daily intelligence briefs for several presidents and was Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, told me that the XI's formulation would have been chosen very carefully. The calculated ambiguity was meant to convey both that it is not an alliance – so that China doesn't get drawn into Ukraine, and Russia doesn't get drawn into Taiwan – and that is so close it exceeds an alliance. It is a formulation deliberately broadcast during the summit as a warning to the US if it persists in forcing the world into a second cold war. Unlike the first cold war, this time the US will face two superpowers.

McGovern told me that a key part of what is behind this message is Putin's earnestness about getting a legally binding assurance that NATO will stop expanding east toward Ukraine and Russia's borders. But, he said, what is even more important to Putin is NATO's plan to put anti-ballistic missiles within range of Russia.

On December 2, 2021, Putin clearly demanded "reliable and long-term security guarantees [that] would exclude any further NATO moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory." On December 15, the day of his summit with XI, Putin sent the US a proposal on mutual security guarantees and a request for immediate negotiations. Putin informed XI of the security guarantee proposal during their virtual summit.

It was in response to that information that, during the summit, XI said "We firmly support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests" and proposed that Russia and China cooperate to "more effectively safeguard the security interests of both parties."

McGovern says that XI was very clear in stressing that he appreciates and admires Putin's emphasis over the years on the need to respect China's core interests and his strongly resisting US attempts to drive a wedge between China and Russia. XI stressed the close relationship and emphasized that since Putin had admirably and loyally stressed the close and mutually beneficial relationship, he was not going to leave Russia alone in its demand to get security guarantees from the US. The message was clear: they supported us; we will support them. And the issue was clearly NATO.

The choice of words and the public message to Biden were very clear. If you are going to persist in forcing a second cold war, it will be a different cold war. This time it won't be a cold war with Russia or China: it will be a cold war with Russia and China.
International Youth Forum "BRICS Plus" (Международный молодежный форум "БРИКС Плюс") / Russia, December, 2021
Keywords: cooperation, BRICS+

The International Youth Forum "BRICS PLUS" was held in the online format on 14-15 December 2021. Due to some COVID-19 restrictions it was decided to hold the first part of the forum online and the second part of it will be held offline in 2022.

More than 200 youth leaders, public organizations, scientists, entrepreneurs and students from 33 countries of the world joined the forum online. Participants of the forum were divided in the small groups using breakout meeting option of the zoom platform where they had a chance to discuss and present their presentations to other participants exploring the possibilities of partnership for the realization of projects and ideas. Main idea of dividing the participants was to get the suggestions from other participants, developing an international project team and improvisation based on the earlier session held on project development.

On the 15th of December, the most interesting 16 projects in the sphere of international youth cooperation, public diplomacy, business, art and culture which were selected by the participants themselves in breakout groups were presented to experts for feedback. The forum was also attended by experts, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, ministries, government agencies, think tanks with considerable experience in BRICS research.

The thematic focus of the Forum is the development of international youth cooperation between the BRICS countries and friendly states. The International Youth Forum "BRICS PLUS" is aimed at developing inclusive leadership and partnership in international youth cooperation and create a positive image of BRICS among young people from the participating countries to form new ideas for cooperation within the framework of BRICS Plus.

The Forum was organized by the International Youth Edu-Skills Foundation in association with the Confederation of Young Leaders and the Project Office for International Youth Cooperation "Russia-BRICS" with the support of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.

Partners of the forum includes National Committee for BRICS Research (NKI BRICS), South African BRICS Youth Association (SABYA), Regional Public Organization "BRICS. World of Traditions", International Media Network "TV BRICS", People's Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), "Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture" Foundation, RIC Media, Janhit Times, Association of Young Researchers and Uzbekistan Volunteer Association.

At the opening session of the forum participants were addressed with a welcome speech by Mikhail Ktitorov, Counsellor (Culture), Russian Embassy in India, Larisa Efremova, Vice-rector for international affairs, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, Valeria Chernogorodova, Head of the Department of International Affairs, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia "Rosmolodezh".

In his welcome speech Counsellor (Culture), Russian Embassy in India, Mikhail Ktitorov said, "BRICS association is in many ways unique and interstate format of cooperation, an outstanding example of new global network diplomacy. In this context the dialogue between our citizens plays a special role and it covers a whole range of areas including the youth. Interaction on this track embodies the manifestation of the vitality of the BRICS concept itself, its growing attractiveness for public associations and youth organizations of our countries. It contributes to strengthening the contacts between young people, laying a foundation of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples. It has become a good tradition to hold the Youth Summit, the Youth energy summit, forums of young diplomats and scientists."

He mentioned that the initiatives like BRICS School, Youth Camp of BRICS Countries and various competitions in the BRICS spaces are being organized every year. He also emphasized that most of these initiatives are coming from grassroot levels and not from the decision of governments.

Vice-rector for international affairs, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, Larisa Efremova noted in her address "BRICS Network University is a unique and ambitious project, one of the largest initiatives in the world to integrate educational and scientific schools in a wide geopolitical space. BRICS NU promotes intercultural dialogue among students, preservation, development and mutual enrichment of culture, languages, historical and national traditions of the peoples of the BRICS member states."

Head of the Department of International Affairs, "Rosmolodezh" the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia which is the main organization to implement youth policies in Russia Valeria Chernogorodova said, "We attach great importance to fostering close cooperation with partners from the BRICS countries. This year a very important project was launched which is called BRICS Youth Camp held in Ulyanovsk region and I hope it will be annual event in the BRICS sphere gathering young people from other countries which might be interested in fostering closer cooperation with BRICS in the BRICS++ format. As the agency we are very happy that the platforms such as BRICS Youth Summits and BRICS Youth camp results in the projects led and implemented by young people of BRICS countries and this forum is widely joined by the young people from whole world and it makes me happy that topics of BRICS is getting interested not only people from BRICS but from youth from all over the world."

Opening session of the forum was also attended and addressed by Sandra Stoilkovich, Specialist and Project Manager of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, Valeriia Gorbacheva, GR-Director, National Committee on BRICS Research, Lyudmila Sekacheva, President of the Regional Public Organization "BRICS. World of Traditions", Dr. Raymond Matlala, Founder and Chairman, South African BRICS Youth Association, Sameep Shastri, Chairman, Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership (IIGL), President, Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL), Vice Chairman, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BRICS CCI) and President, BRICS CCI Young Leaders and Akil Mohammad, Founder and Chairperson, International Youth Edu Skills Foundation, President, Asian Students Association in RUDN University.

The Session was moderated by Diana Kovela, Representative of the Project Office of International Youth Cooperation "Russia – BRICS", Deputy Director – Head of the International Relations Department, "Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture" Foundation.

"This is a breakthrough! I am so proud of the members of the Russia-BRICS Project Office for International Youth Cooperation. Back in April, an active leader from India, Akil Mohammad conceived the idea of a forum and turned his idea into a project using project management tools and becoming the winner of a grant competition. This is an excellent illustration of youth diplomacy and the results of working with both young leaders and experienced experts", said Diana Kovela.

GR-Director, National Committee on BRICS Research, Valeriia Gorbacheva in her address noted"The main goal of the BRICS international youth cooperation are the fulfilment of creative, educational and social potential of the young generation, the strengthening of friendship in the format of BRICS Plus, mutual understanding and interaction of peoples of our countries as well as the promotion of the consolidation of the common humanitarian, economic and socio-cultural space based on the experience of the BRICS cooperation, BRICS Plus cooperation in various field of humanitarian activities. BRICS is a striking example of exciting collective principles of international affairs, therefore first of all, it is the youth of the five countries to face the challenges of building a sustainable future. I am confident the results of this forum result to enable the exchange of useful experience among BRICS and BRICS Plus youth and strengthen inter-BRICS solidarity."

President of the Regional Public Organization "BRICS. World of Traditions" Lyudmila Sekacheva started with her greetings to the participants of the forum and congratulations to NKI BRICS on its 10th anniversary, she noted,"This Forum will act as a communicative platform, a master class, where young BRICSologists have the opportunity not only to present their projects, but at the same time to find partners in one or another of their areas, which will serve, in fact, to continue multilateral cooperation in the field of BRICS."

Chairman, Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership (IIGL), President, Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL), Vice Chairman, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BRICS CCI) and President, BRICS CCI Young Leaders, Sameep Shastri stressed,"Inclusive leadership is when young people of all abilities are given the opportunity to become leaders in their schools, communities and their families. These leadership activities help young people gain a voice and train them to become agents of change in their communities, promoting equality and acceptance. As we look to the future, BRICS youth will be responsible for all aspects of civil society and adolescents to develop leadership skills. The society guarantees a bright future, effective initiatives, and well-implemented ideas. There are many dreams and aspirations that, with the right upbringing and support, will turn into something that can be seen all over the world."

The first plenary session on "Review on achievements, conflicts, goals, and priorities of the BRICS grouping for the future" was moderated by Raymond Matlala, Founder and Chairman, South African BRICS Youth Association. The session was focused on discussing the important results of cooperation BRICS has achieved in last 15 years and future development priorities of the group based on the results previously achieved goals promoting new ideas and attracting new partners.

Speakers of the session were leading experts in the international relations having a vast experience in BRICS cooperation format. Speakers of the session included:

Sydney Muenda, Assistant Director, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Republic of South Africa

Valeriia Gorbacheva, GR-Director, National Committee on BRICS Research

Henrique Domingues, Special Representative of International Municipal BRICS Forum

Tatiana Seliverstova, Expert on International cooperation

Diana Kovela, Representative of the Project Office of International Youth Cooperation "Russia – BRICS", Deputy Director – Head of the International Relations Department, "Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture" Foundation

Devadathan Nair, Expert on Public relations and media communications, Representative of The Times of India Group, in Russia

Alexander Sokolov, Deputy Director, Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, Higher School of Economics

Elza Shirgazina, Junior Fellow, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations named after E.M. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences "(IMEMO RAS)

"If we can get our youth to meaningfully participate in critical issues that affect the youth globally, then we can create a network of young diplomats to tackle challenges in making the world a better place." BRICS provide us with the platform to do so meaningfully. BRICS plus saw several youth projects presented to the international community for advice and possible funding opportunity to key role players from across the BRICS countries and beyond. We need to fast track the establishment of the BRICS youth secretariat which will ensure the implementation and monitoring of the BRICS youth policy and pragmatic recommendations. Lastly, I would like to call on all BRICS countries to implement a free visa regime for all member states." saidRaymond Matlala.

Second Plenary session on "Project development basics, available support, and realization process" was moderated by Kira Ivanova, Coordinator of the Russia – BRICS Project Office of International Youth Cooperation, International Affairs department of the Foundation "Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture".

The session was focused on providing case studies on practical implementation of projects. The knowledge, skills, resources, tools, and techniques required to achieve project objectives and develop international cooperation. Apart from this session also focused to providing information on grants and funding opportunities to realize youth projects and various educational opportunities under the BRICS Network University.

Speakers of the session included:

Lyubov Savelyeva, Founder and Head of International Friendship Club

"International youth projects development (on intercultural dialogue and public diplomacy)"

Sandra Stoilkovich, Specialist and Project Manager of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund

"Presentation of the Gorchakov Fund, and she will talk about the possibilities of obtaining a grant to foreign NGOs and individuals from the Fund, as well as the possibilities of cooperation with Russian organizations and operation on the territory of Russia"

Angelina Osipova, Head of the Organizational and Financial support of International Projects and cooperation with Network Universities of RUDN University

"BRICS Network University: Main Results of 2020-2021 and Development Prospects"

Phetole Seodi, Manager: Public & International Relations, Corporate Investments, Office of the CEO, National Youth Development Agency South Africa

"Funding opportunities of National Youth Development Agency for South African Youth Projects"

Ekaterina Tyatyushkina, European Youth Association, Program coordinator

"From the presentation of the project to its financing"

Saad Uakkas, Moroccan global youth engagement and health activist, international trainer, TEDx speaker and Diana award holder, the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons Morocco 2021

"The power of partnership to enhance project development and implementation"

Parv Aggarwal, Business Development Director, XinFin Network, Director of US-Russia Relations, Russian-American Youth Alliance and Founder, Blockchain for Palestine

"Pitching startup projects within Eurasian context (with Blockchain examples)"

"The forum was held in one breath. It is very important that representatives of the BRICS countries are in regular interaction and learn from each other's experience, for the sake of a better and stable future. Therefore, such platforms for communication are extremely helpful for the active youth. It is gratifying to note that new significant projects are born out of each such event, which are then implemented. It was a very good initiative of Akil Mohammad, which showed the importance of holding such events in the context of deepening the relationship of young experts in the BRICS space and strengthening cooperation between the BRICS member states", said Kira Ivanova.

Second day of the Forum started with the Plenary session on "Role of public diplomacy in strengthening cooperation at the people-to-people level within the sphere of BRICS plus" which was moderated by Suzzane Chelsea Zerin, Assistant Director, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The key focus of the session was discussing the key issues of public diplomacy and its role in building intra-group trust between the BRICS plus countries and introducing the participants with many public organizations working in the field of international youth cooperation. The leading public organization led by youth to empower cooperation in BRICS Plus format and provides various opportunities to youth from different countries.

Speakers of the session included:

Andrey Bem, Head of the Project Office, International Youth Cooperation in the "Russia – Central Asian" region direction

Timerkhan Shaikhutdinov, Administrator of Project Office for International Youth Cooperation "Russia — the OIC"

Anita Dkhar, Expert for international cooperation, RPO "BRICS. World of traditions"

Abhinav Sharma, Co-Founder, International Youth Edu-Skills Foundation

Amanda Harumy, Director of international affairs at ANPG and Students' leader at the University's Consil of USP

Natalia Dashuk, representative of Russia-BRICS Project office of International Youth Cooperation

The representatives of the public organization called the participants to partner with their organizations and participate in their projects building a strong youth community.

"We are already aware how in a digital world like today, post covid-19, public diplomacy has a huge role to play in the international arena. With people getting easy access to technology, the world shifting online, public diplomacy is changing models as well as its targets." said Suzzane Chelsea Zerin.

A very important plenary session on the topic of "Entrepreneurship, business and economic development" was also held on the same day, which was moderated by Reon Van Der Merwe, Director for Stakeholders, South African BRICS Youth Association. The session focused on financing entrepreneurs, innovation environments, social entrepreneurship, and e-entrepreneurship within BRICS and possibilities of extending economic cooperation within the BRICS Plus format.

The session speakers were:

Pulane Masebe, Department of Small Business Development, South Africa

"Support programs young entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa"

Uros Vukanovic, President, Balkan Russian Economic Forum

"BRICS an emerging of new regional economic union"

Sachidanand Swami, Founder and CEO, Invoxel Technologies

"Business environment in India, support from government for foreign business"

Alexey Ezhov, Chairman, Leaders of International Cooperation

"Russian-Chinese Business Accelerator program"

Ivan Shchedrov, Junior Research Fellow, IMEMO RAS, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations named after E.M. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"Smart cities on the agenda of socio-economic development of India"

Dr. Mohd. Nayyer Rahman, Assistant Professor, Aligarh Muslim University

"E-Entrepreneurship in BRICS countries: Understanding the Digital and Hub economy dynamics"

Dr. Alexandra Morozkina, Head of the Structural Reforms Division, Economic Expert Group

"Support to small and medium-sized businesses in Russia in the era of Covid"

"The International Youth Forum BRICS+ is more than just a single event. It's part of a movement among global South youth seeking to stake their in the 21st century globalised world. The session on Entrepreneurship was particularly relevant; to succeed the BRICS bloc must become, first-and-foremost, a catalyst for innovation and common prosperity for current and future generations. SABYA remains an adamant advocate of this vision." said Reon Van Der Merwe.

"Expert Session: Delegate Project Presentations" became the most interesting and motivating session of forum which was moderated by Anna Popkova, Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Safety and Product Quality Management, Institute of Environmental Engineering, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) and Deputy Dean for International Activities, Institute of Environmental Engineering, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University).

The session was dedicated to participants of the forum to present their projects to experts for feedback and guidance. Experts of the session included:

Alexander Egorychev, Leading specialist expert, Department of International Affairs, "Rosmolodezh" the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia

Natalia Dashuk, Representative of the Russia-BRICS Project office of International Youth Cooperation

Ivan Shchedrov, Junior Research Fellow, IMEMO RAS, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations named after E.M. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The most interesting projects were presented in the session which were selected by participants with mutual agreements within group discussions held on the first day of forum. The selected projects were presented by:

Anastasia Ilyushina, Polina Kulakova, Andrey BerezhnovBRICS Project Lab (Russia)

Manojj DhinakaranInter- Cultural Exchange on Health Aspects (India)

Yauheni KharukBRICS Student Expert and Analytical Community (Belarus)

Cauviya MadhiyazhaganKensho Project is a mental health start-up (India)

Muhammad Tahir BahuUN Intensive Training for Young Diplomats (Pakistan)

Ekaterina SennitskayaSchool Exchange Internship (Russia)

Aksheyaa AkilanHealth Literacy Youth Summit (India)

Salamat IsmakeevaTraining young village women basic Enterpreunership skills and provide with small grants (Kyrgyzstan)

Marina Sappinen, Sofya Lagokha, Tatiana KuznetsovaEco friendly city (Russia)

Daria PodlesnovaYouthBiz (Russia)

Vrushali KadamThe Future is GREEN: Climate Crisis, Youth Leadership & Green Jobs (India)

Phalguni Sundaram BiswalSSC (South-South Cooperation) in Trade and Investment (India)

Kiseleva MilenaInternational centre IDEMY (Russia)

Suhasini SrinivasargvanRole of Music in achieving SDGs (India)

Rumit WaliaThe Future Forward Summit 2022 (India)

Elizaveta PetrovskaiaAnnual youth festival at the level of the BRICS countries (Russia)

Experts of the forum gave their recommendations, suggestions and gave important comments for the implementation of these projects. Leading specialist expert, Department of International Affairs, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia "Rosmolodezh", Alexander Egorychev added in endthat the International Youth Forum "BRICS Plus" did a great job in uniting brilliant minds from the whole world and wished that the forum should be organized annually.

"The mission of expert session was to gather young active people from different regions of BRICS and create a discussion platform for the exchange of ideas and get feedback on developed projects. The mission was implemented excellent. The participants' projected were developed at the high level and devoted for solving extremely actual social and environmental problems and correspond to main Sustainable Development Goals. Why we pay such focus on youth projects? The link between youth and economic, social and green growth should be a straightforward one: young people get on in life, and the economy grows with every step they take." said Anna Popkova.

During the forum President of the Regional Public Organization "BRICS. World of Traditions" Lyudmila Sekacheva came up with an idea the idea of creation of the "Anthem of the BRICS Peoples", which can be performed in five languages during each five-sided public events in the BRICS countries. To implement this initiative, its

the author proposed to hold a multilateral youth competition for the best text and music of the solemn Anthem, taking into account features of song and musical creativity of the peoples of the BRICS countries.

The forum was concluded with the virtual group photo and closing words byLyudmila Sekacheva, Kira Ivanova and Akil Mohammad. Participants of the forum thanked the organizers for hosting the event and bringing them together to make new connections.

"In my opinion we concluded the forum with good results and amazing learning experience. We were able to bring young leaders from more than 30 countries with having interest in engaging with BRICS. All the participants were very energetic and full of enthusiasm. We tried to give an opportunity to our delegates to discuss their ideas and projects to develop collaborations internationally for the realization of their ideas. We received more than 300 applications for participation in the forum which including 100 applications with projects in the sphere international cooperation, public diplomacy, business, art and culture. 16 most interesting projects were presented to experts for feedback. I am sure that in the near future we will see many of these projects being practically implemented. We need self-motivated, initiators and innovators to build a strong youth community within BRICS+ format for a bright and peaceful future. These kinds of educational forums really help connecting brilliant minds from different countries and hopefully we would be able to host the event next year in India in offline format" said Akil Mohammad on the successful completing of the forum.

The second stage of the forum will take place in 2022 in India to work on the practical implementation of the projects presented during online stage. It is also planned to organize a mini-BRICS walk to symbolize intra-BRICS people-to-people contacts and the foundation of "Garden of Friendship & Peace" will be laid down where delegates from each participating country will plant a tree.
China-Russia ties withstand tests and blossom with vitality, setting example of mutual trust: FM Wang Yi (Китайско-российские отношения выдерживают испытания и процветают, подавая пример взаимного доверия: министр иностранных дел Ван И) / China, December, 2021
Keywords: Wang_Yi, cooperation, quotation

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday spoke highly of China-Russia strategic coordination, saying the two countries have set an example of strategic mutual trust and injected more stability into an uncertain world.

In 2021, China and Russia celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin officially announced the extension of the treaty in June.

The agreement demonstrates the firm determination of the two countries to rely on each other strategically, provide opportunities for each other's development and become each other's global partners, Wang said on Monday while delivering a speech during an opening ceremony at a Beijing-based symposium on international affairs and relations, reviewing and summarizing China's diplomacy in 2021.

In 2021, the heads of state of China and Russia have met and talked on the phone four times, maintaining close strategic communication.

"The joint efforts of China and Russia to fight the COVID-19 epidemic have given a new prominence to the traditional friendship between the two peoples. Mutually beneficial cooperation across the board has provided strong support for each other's innovative development," Wang said.

Strategic coordination between the two sides on international and regional hotspot issues has injected more stability into an uncertain world, and the "strength of China and Russia" has become a pillar of international fairness and justice, he added.

Wang said under the leadership of the two countries' leaders, China-Russia relations have withstood various tests and blossomed with vitality, setting a good example of strategic mutual trust between major countries, mutually beneficial cooperation between neighboring countries and a new type of international relations.

The "China-Russia bond" is a solid union like a mountain, Wang said, "No matter how the international situation changes, China and Russia will remain committed to an enduring friendship, achieving win-win cooperation and upholding peace."

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Keywords: NDB, investments
On December 14, 2021, the Board of Directors (Board) of the New Development Bank (NDB) held its 33rd Meeting in a virtual format.

The Board welcomed the participation of Mr. Md. Shahriar Kader Siddiky (Bangladesh) and Mr. Abdalla Ahmed Al Obeidli (United Arab Emirates), representing the new constituency of new members. This was the first Board meeting with Board members from new member countries of the Bank.

The Board was briefed on the project implementation focusing on disbursement and procurement, and also discussed the project pipeline.

The Board reviewed several policies concerning operations, risk management, compliance and IT and approved the proposed amendments.

An update on the Bank's LIBOR transition progress was delivered to the Board. The Board approved the Bank's SOFR Pricing Framework and the 2022 Funding Plan.

The Board took note of the progress of membership expansion and preparation of the General Strategy: 2022-2026.

The Board was updated on the 2021 budget utilization and approved the 2022 budget proposal.

The Board also approved a loan of RMB 3,237 million to the People's Republic of China for the Qingdao Metro Line Six (Phase I) Project. The loan will be used for financing the construction of a 30.19 km metro line in the West Coast New Area of Qingdao, a rapidly developing economic district in the municipality.

The Qingdao Metro Line Six will carry 40% of the total passenger traffic of the West Coast New Area. It will contribute to improving transport infrastructure and coping with rapidly growing demand in passenger traffic. Key outcomes of the Project include reduced travel time for commuters, decongestion of roads and emission reduction, improved transport safety and enhanced travel comfort.

As part of 'smart metro' development, the Qingdao Metro Line Six will have the highest level of train automation (including unmanned driving) and subway infrastructure. In particular, Train Autonomous Circumambulate System (TACS) will allow trains to communicate with each other directly and take decisions autonomously using artificial intelligence, increasing traffic fluidity and reducing intervals between trains by more than 20%. Intelligent Subway Operations System (ISOS) will contribute to making metro more convenient for passengers by using smart technologies, such as face recognition for entrance and exit, ticketing by biometry, intelligent safety measures, etc.

With the approval of the Project, NDB's total amount of project financing has exceeded USD 29.5 billion (canceled loans excluded).

The 21st Meeting of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee and the 17th Meeting of the Budget, Human Resources and Compensation Committee took place virtually on December 13, 2021.

Background Information

New Development Bank was established with the purpose of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021. The NDB received AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch and AAA foreign currency long-term issuer rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) and Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).
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