Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 12.2018
2018.03.19— 2018.03.25
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Islamic World and the BRICS (Исламский мир и БРИКС) / Finland, March, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Karim Maiche

What is the role of the Islamic world in the processes of multilateralism and pluralization of the world order? Islamic countries or Muslim-majority countries are already integral part of various multilateral institutions while Islamic states and representative institutions are connected to the hub of multilateral institutions.

While there has been some speculation regarding the joining of Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey and Indonesia among others to BRICS in the future, how would that effect on the plurality among BRICS countries and its structures? In the final declaration of ninth BRICS summit held at Xiamen in 2017, the pluralism and diversity were stressed:

We will embrace cultural diversity and promote people-to-people exchanges to garner more popular support for BRICS cooperation through deepened traditional friendships. We will expand people-to-people exchanges in all dimensions, encourage all fabrics of the society to participate in BRICS cooperation, promote mutual learning between our cultures and civilizations, enhance communication and mutual understanding among our peoples and deepen traditional friendships, thus making BRICS partnership closer to our people's hearts.

BRICS have highlighted its positive orientation towards pluralism and diversity in many occasions and it seem to posses less anti-Islamic prejudices compared to current EU or US political atmospheres, while not immune to them either. Is there room for Islamic values in BRICS?

It is important to highlight the plurality of the Muslim world and challenge the reductive understanding of the concept "Islamic world" in the first place. Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia, contain various historical, cultural and socio-economic variations that complicates its understanding and use as compact singular entity. In addition, BRICS member states include important Muslim diasporas. The world's second largest Muslim population can be found in India. Therefore, one can ask how would Islamic BRICS member effect on the domestic policies of the current BRICS countries?

BRICS have taken position in which diversity is considered as strength. However, the future BRICS members should bring more concrete elements than values: positive economic implications. The Muslim-majority countries as well as the religion of Islam in general takes favorable position regarding capitalism and free trade, which has been seen both in the past as well as in contemporary economic policies of these countries. How political and economic performances of multiple Islamic world through multilateral institutions might impact on processes of pluralization of the global world order in the 21st century in general and with the BRICS in particular? The answer may be mostly economic and security related.

Recently BRICS countries have gone through multiple internal and external transformations. The regime change in Brazil and changes in leadership in South Africa instigate many questions regarding their orientation within BRICS. Meanwhile, China's extensive OBOR design disrupts India's economic and security interests pushing Delhi to balance China's influence with other regional and international powers. Recently, BRICS has been transformed rather as a tool for China and Russia to develop their multilateral relations. How other players can benefit from BRICS?

The role of the BRICS as platform in challenging the US hegemonic world order have suffered from internal competition, regime changes and other international multilateral processes that have distracted its horizontal and vertical formation. BRICS is functioning in close relation with other multilateral institutions (such as SCO in UFA e.g.) and if BRICS cannot re-establish its purpose and design, why should it estasblish the platform for Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey or Indonesia? Iran, for example, is probably more interested in integration within security organizations such as SCO and not BRICS, while suffering from military threats from the US.

There have been some speculation regarding the weakening of the importance of BRICS as a platform for its member states. However, it is too early to make decisions regarding the faith of this platform. The critical stance of the current US administration regarding the multilateral processes and globalization in general leaves abundantly space for future regional and multilateral transformations, where BRICS have various roles to play in the construction of multipolar world order.

China-South Africa Ties: Leaders exchange ideas ahead of BRICS Summit, FOCAC 2018 (Связи между Китаем и ЮАР: лидеры обмениваются идеями перед саммитом БРИКС, FOCAC 2018) / China, March, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting

Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative, Yang Jiechi has met with South Africa's Foreign Affairs Minister and President Cyril Ramaphosa, in Cape Town. CGTN'S Rene Del Carme is there and filed this report.

RENE DEL CARME CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA The visit by the high-ranking diplomat is the first high level Chinese visit to Africa since the Two Sessions meeting in Beijing this month. And it coincides with the 20th celebration of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. The main focus of this visit is the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two trade partners. As well as the exchange of ideas ahead of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in July and the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, to be held in Beijing, in September, this year. Yang Jiechi is widely regarded as one of the architects of China's Foreign Policy. And some analysts say President Xi Jinping's decision to send him to South Africa highlights the significance of the China-South Africa relationship. Rene Del Carme, CGTN, Cape Town, South Africa.
[Abstract] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on March 22, 2018 (Отрывок из очередной пресс-конференции 22 марта 2018 года у официального представителя МИД КНР в Чикаго, США Хуа Чунинга) / United States, March, 2018
Keywords: quotation, mofa
United States

Q: Do you have more details about the purpose and schedule of Mr. Yang Jiechi's visit? What's China's expectation?

A: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi's upcoming official visit to South Africa as President Xi Jinping's Special Representative is an important visit to Africa by Chinese central leadership after the Two Sessions this year. With a view to following through on the policy of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests put forward by the report submitted to the 19th CPC National Congress, this visit will enable an in-depth interaction and policy synergy on bettering bilateral relations and across-the-board cooperation and development, so that China-South Africa cooperation will bring more benefits to the two countries and two peoples.

During the visit, Special Representative Yang Jiechi is expected to meet with leaders of South African political parties and government and they will exchange views on China-South Africa relations, the 2018 Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing and the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, among others.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. Over the past 20 years, with the concerted efforts of both sides, the bilateral relationship has developed in an in-depth manner and been elevated from partnership to strategic partnership and then comprehensive strategic partnership, demonstrating good momentum for development in political mutual trust, economic and trade cooperation, cultural and people-to-people exchange and strategic coordination.

China highly values its relations with South Africa. China stands ready to, taking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties as an opportunity, support the 2018 Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing and the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, continuously deepen China-South Africa friendly cooperation across the board, and keep moving forward the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.

Collapse of the World Order? (Коллапс мирового порядка?) / Russia, March, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Alexey Arbatov

There is a widespread belief both in Russia and abroad that the Ukrainian crisis has undermined the system of international relations, which was built after the end of the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s and even since much earlier—after the end of World War II in 1945. This belief is corroborated with impressive analogies.

The bone of contention then was the division of postwar Europe between the Soviet Union and the U.S. Now it is the struggle for influence in the post-Soviet area and in its second largest country after Russia—Ukraine. In former days, the geopolitical conflict took place amid the irreconcilable ideological confrontation between communism and capitalism. Now, after twenty years of oblivion, the ideological schism has again come to the fore—this time between spiritual values of Russian conservatism and Western liberalism (which is associated with same-sex marriages, legalization of drugs and prostitution, and mercantile individualism). This association is further strengthened by an unprecedented growth of great-power sentiment and creeping immoral and pernicious rehabilitation of Stalinism in Russia, as well as by the irresponsible U.S. policy of exporting American canons of freedom and democracy to pre-capitalist countries.

It is hard to escape the impression that today, at the beginning of the 21st century marked by globalization and information revolution, the world is returning to seizure of territories and geopolitical wars that were characteristic of the first half of the 20th century and even of the 19th century. True, the world order that is now falling to pieces is far from perfect, and Russia, like many other countries, has reasons to complain about it. Yet it is far from evident that the next world order will be better. And it is far from clear what the essence of the world order that is now gone was and whether a new edition of the Cold War is possible.


The system of international relations is not based on international law and institutions, but rests on the actual distribution and balance of power between major nations, their alliances and common interests. This is what determines how effective and practicable the international law and its mechanisms are. The period after the end of WWII was the most vivid example of that.

The world order of those times was built on the accords reached by the victorious countries in Yalta, Potsdam and San Francisco in 1945. The accords drew borders in Europe and the Far East where the German, Italian and Japanese empires had collapsed; they established the United Nations and resolved many postwar issues. The big idea was that the great powers would jointly maintain peace and resolve international disputes and conflicts on the basis of the UN Charter in order to prevent a new world war. But that world order was never built—it quickly crumbled amid the confrontation between the USSR and the United States in Europe and then worldwide.

In Central and Eastern Europe liberated by the Soviet army, the Soviet Union within a few years established a socialist regime and initiated mass repressions. This outraged the United States which, in turn, helped suppress the communist movement in several West European countries. The occupation zones in Germany turned into two states—the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. The establishment of NATO and the admission of West Germany into it were reciprocated by the creation of the Warsaw Pact. Over time, the confronting parties deployed forces unprecedented in strength for peacetime and thousands of nuclear warheads on both sides of the Inner German border.

Important European borders—between the GDR and Poland (the Oder-Neisse line), between West and East Germany, and the Soviet Union's border around the Baltic States—were not legally recognized by the West; in the first case until the 1970 agreements, in the second case until 1973, and in third case ever. The status of West Berlin became a source of several dangerous crises (1948, 1953 and 1958). The Berlin crisis of August 1961, when Soviet and U.S. tanks actually faced each other at point-blank range, almost led to an armed conflict between the USSR and the U.S. The Berlin issue was resolved only by agreements of 1971. The Cold War paralyzed the UN Security Council and turned the organization from an institution for maintaining international peace and security into a forum for propaganda polemics.

Ready-for-use nuclear arsenals gave rise to fear of a head-on clash in the area of ??direct military confrontation between the two powerful alliances, which forced the confronting parties to freeze conflicts and the actual borders in Europe (but made their "unfreezing" inevitable after the end of the Cold War). Yet during the first twenty-five years of that world order the European continent was constantly shaken by tensions and crises between the two blocs. Simultaneously, the Soviet Union militarily suppressed civilian and armed uprisings in the socialist camp (in 1953 in East Germany, in 1956 in Hungary, and in 1968 in Czechoslovakia).

The situation was relatively stabilized more than twenty years later—during the first temporary detente between the two nuclear superpowers, codified in the ABM and SALT I treaties of 1972. Three years after that, in 1975, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) signed the Helsinki Final Act, which proclaimed the inviolability of national frontiers in Europe and ten principles of peaceful coexistence of European nations (including territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-use of force, and the right to self-determination of peoples).

A lady by the name of Europe.
"A gorgeous woman, but costs a real fortune."
The front cover of Simplicissimus magazine (Germany), 1962

Outside of Europe, however, the Cold-War world order manifested itself in the absence of order up until the end of the Cold War. For forty years the world lived in constant fear of a global war. In addition to the Berlin crisis of 1961, great powers at least three times were on the brink of nuclear catastrophe: during the Suez crisis of 1956, during the Middle East war of 1973, and during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, when the red line was nearly crossed. Moscow and Washington reached a compromise just a couple of days before the date when the U.S. planned to deliver an air strike against the Cuban bases where Soviet nuclear missiles had been placed. Some of those missiles were brought to combat readiness for a retaliatory strike, which Washington did not know. Mankind was saved then not only by the caution displayed by the Kremlin and the White House but also by sheer luck.

There was no joint global governance by the two superpowers—it was just the fear of a nuclear catastrophe that caused the confronting parties to avoid direct clashes in their geopolitical rivalry. Nevertheless, over that period, dozens of large regional and local wars and conflicts occurred, taking the lives of over 20 million people. U.S. military casualties in those years amounted to 120,000 people, as many as in World War I of 1914-1918. Often conflicts broke out suddenly and ended unpredictably, with the great powers suffering defeat—the Korean War, two wars in Indochina, five wars in the Middle East, a war in Algeria, wars between India and Pakistan, and between Iran and Iraq, wars in the Horn of Africa, the Congo, Nigeria, Angola, Rhodesia, and Afghanistan, not to mention countless internal coups and bloody civil wars.

In their global rivalry, the parties arbitrarily violated international law, including territorial integrity, sovereignty and the right of nations to self-determination. Military force and subversive operations were used regularly, cynically and massively under ideological banners. Outside Europe, the borders of states constantly changed, military force was used to break up and reunify countries (Korea, Vietnam, the Middle and Near East, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, etc.). Almost in each conflict the United States and the Soviet Union were on opposite sides and provided direct military assistance to their allies.

This rivalry was accompanied by an unprecedented race in nuclear and conventional weapons, armed confrontation of the superpowers and their allies on all continents and in all oceans, as well as by the development and testing of space weapons. This rivalry caused huge economic costs to all countries, yet it especially undermined the Soviet economy. It was only in 1968 that the parties signed the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and in the late 1960s they began serious negotiations on nuclear weapons and, later, on conventional armed forces in Europe.

The world economy was divided into two systems: capitalist and socialist. In those circumstances, it was impossible to use economic sanctions against each other because there were constant and rigid trade barriers (such as COCOM). It was only in the 1970s that the parties launched selective economic interaction—hydrocarbon exports from the Soviet Union to Western Europe, and modest imports of industrial goods and technologies from there. Economic crises in the West caused joy in the East, while economic difficulties experienced by the USSR were pleasant news to the United States and its allies. On the other hand, economic independence (autarky) and reliance on the defense industry as a development engine expectedly drove the socialist economy into an economic and technological stupor.

The forty years of the bipolar system of international relations and the Cold War vividly demonstrated that international law and institutions work only as an exception—in those rare cases when major powers realize their common interest. Otherwise, zero-sum games turn this law and these organizations into nothing but means to justify one's actions and forums for propaganda battles.

Since the late 1990s Russia has been living with a sense of growing threat. It has been stated even officially that the end of the Cold War did not strengthen but weakened the country's national security. This is a pure and simple political and psychological aberration. Partly it is explained by the fact that when the most terrible threat—the probability of a global nuclear war—moved far into the background, universal harmony did not emerge, despite naive hopes of the early 1990s. The horrors of the forty years of the Cold War made ??everyone forget how dangerous the world had been earlier and that there had been two world wars. Moreover, nostalgia for the leadership positions once held by their country—as one of the two global superpowers—causes many people in Russia, those who worked during the Cold War and especially those who came into politics after it, to substitute reality with historical myths and have regrets about the lost "world order" which in fact was mere balancing on the brink of total destruction.


As often happens in history, the fundamental change in the balance of power in the world arena was accompanied by changes in the world order, however dubious the term may look in reference to the Cold War period. The collapse of the Soviet empire, economy, state and ideology spelled the end of the bipolar system of international relations. Throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, the U.S. sought to replace this world order with the idea of ??a U.S.-led unipolar world. Previous

It should be noted that the end of the Cold War led to the establishment of the global security system: major agreements were concluded to ensure control over nuclear and conventional weapons, and to guarantee non-proliferation and liquidation of weapons of mass destruction. The UN began to play a greater role in peacekeeping operations (of 49 such operations conducted by the UN before 2000, 36 were carried out in the 1990s). For over two decades after the Cold War, the number of international conflicts and their devastating effect decreased significantly in comparison with any of the 20-year periods during the Cold War.

Russia, China and other former socialist countries, despite differences in their political systems, were integrated into one global financial and economic system and common global institutions, even though they did not have much influence on them. Only a few countries remained outside this system, such as North Korea, Cuba and Somalia. The crisis of 2008 demonstrated financial and economic interdependence of the world. Having started in the United States, it quickly swept other countries and hit hard the Russian economy, too, thus dashing Moscow's hopes that it would remain, as before, an "island of stability."

Several attempts were made to legally formalize the new balance of power: by concluding a treaty on the reunification of Germany between West and East Germany, the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, and France in 1990; by reorganizing the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1995; by adopting the Paris Charter (1990) and the NATO-Russia Founding Act (1997), which followed up on the Helsinki Final Act; and by conducting active discussions of UN reform. In addition, the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty was signed in 1999, and negotiations were held on joint development of missile defense systems.

However, these attempts were largely ineffective or were not completed, just as was the construction of the international security system, above all, because of U.S. global ambitions. In the early 1990s, the U.S. had a unique historical chance to lead the creation of a new, multilateral world order together with other centers of power. However, it unwisely lost this chance. The U.S. suddenly saw itself as "the only superpower in the world." Gripped by euphoria, it began to substitute international law with the law of force, legitimate decisions of the UN Security Council with directives of the U.S. National Security Council, and OSCE prerogatives with NATO actions.

This policy laid time bombs under the new world order: NATO's eastward enlargement; the forceful partitioning of Yugoslavia and Serbia; the illegal invasion of Iraq; and disregard for the UN, the OSCE, and arms control issues (the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002, and non-ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996). The U.S. treated Russia as if it were a loser country, although it was Russia that put an end to the Soviet empire and the Cold War.

The first two decades after the end of bipolarity have convincingly shown that a unipolar world brings no stability or security. Monopoly both at national and international levels inevitably leads to legal nihilism, arbitrary use of force, stagnation and, ultimately, defeat.

China, Russia, new interstate organizations (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS), regional states (Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Bolivia), and even some of Washington's allies (Germany, France and Spain) began to show growing opposition to the "American order." Apart from building up its military potential and competing in global arms trade, Russia started to openly oppose the U.S. in some military-technical areas (for example, means to pierce missile defense systems). In August 2008, for the first time in years, Moscow used military force abroad—in the South Caucasus.

The word "imperialism" has lost its negative connotation in the Russian public discourse and is now increasingly often given a heroic resonance. Nuclear weapons and the nuclear deterrence concept have acquired an exceptionally positive meaning, while the idea of reducing nuclear weapons is now frowned upon. What "world imperialism" was formerly blamed for—the policy of building up weapons, muscle-flexing, the establishment of military bases abroad, and rivalry in arms trade—is now lauded in this country.

China, in turn, has begun to consistently build up and modernize its nuclear and conventional weapons and launched programs for developing armaments capable of overcoming the U.S. missile defense and those that can compete with U.S. precision-guided conventional systems. China has challenged neighboring countries and U.S. military domination in seas west and south of its shores and claimed access to natural resources in Asia and Africa and to control sea lanes used to transport these resources in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The unipolar "order" was deeply undermined by Washington's actual defeat in the Iraqi and Afghan wars and by the global financial and economic crisis of 2008. It ended with an increasingly intensive military-political rivalry between the U.S. and China in the Asia-Pacific region and the tough confrontation between the U.S. and Russia over the Ukrainian crisis.


In terms of Realpolitik, with all the drama of the humanitarian aspect of the crisis and violence in southeastern Ukraine, the essence of what is happening there is simple: the United States and the European Union are drawing Ukraine into their realm, while Russia is not letting it go, seeking to keep Ukraine (or at least part of it) in its orbit of influence. However, Realpolitik does not give the complete picture of the events, as it does not take into account the social, economic and political dimensions of these developments.

The majority of Ukrainians advocate democratic reforms and integration with the West, seeing it as a way to overcome years-long social and economic stagnation, poverty and corruption, and to replace the inefficient system of government. A significant minority (10 to 15 percent) of Ukraine's population, who live in the southeast, are opposed to pro-Western policies and favor the preservation of traditional ties with Russia. President Victor Yanukovich's decisions first to sign an Association Agreement with the EU and then go back on his plans sharply aggravated the political division of the country: it triggered pro-European protests ("Euromaidan") and the use of force by police, overthrow of the legitimate authorities, separation of Crimea, and a civil war in the southeast. Washington is now unfoundedly accusing Moscow of all the troubles, but Russia is only indirectly related to the internationalization of the crisis that had developed before the Crimean events.

In 2012-2013, the new ruling class in Russia regarded mass protests in the country as a Western-inspired attempt to organize a color revolution. Apparently, the Kremlin came to the conclusion that further rapprochement with the U.S. and the EU was dangerous. It therefore abandoned the policy of "European choice for Russia," which was officially proclaimed in the 1990s and during the first period of Putin's rule, starting from the Russia-EU summit in St. Petersburg in May 2003 and until 2007, and replaced it with the doctrine of "Eurasianism."

On the international scene, this doctrine provides for Russia's integration in the Customs and Eurasian Unions with other post-Soviet countries, above all, with Belarus and Kazakhstan, as well as others that would wish to join in. instead of seeking Western investments and advanced technologies (as was provided for by President Dmitry Medvedev's "Partnership for Modernization" concept), the Kremlin launched a policy of re-industrialization of the economy, with emphasis on the defense industry, giving it 23 trillion rubles in budget allocations for the period until 2020. This U-turn has been accompanied by a propaganda campaign, unprecedented since the Cold War times, about a military threat from the West.

Against the background of this change in the Kremlin's policy priorities, Kiev's intention to sign an Association Agreement with the EU was perceived by Russia as a great threat to its "Eurasian" interests. Formerly, plans by Ukrainian presidents Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Victor Yushchenko to apply for membership in NATO and the European Union had not caused such strong reactions from Russia.

The conservation of the state system that has been established in Russia over the last twenty years and the repudiation of major economic and political reforms have been given a doctrinal justification in the concept of conservatism urging a return to traditional moral values ??and state-political canons. Whatever the Kremlin's attitude to this concept, legions of activists in the political class and the media openly call for the revival of great-power Orthodox Russia (some are even not slack of using elements of the Stalinist past). Appeals have been even voiced for incorporation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and occupation, after Crimea, of regions populated by ethnic Russians—south and southeast Ukraine (Novorossiya), Transdniestria, and, as occasion offers, northern Kazakhstan and parts of the Baltic States (leading ideologist of this concept Alexander Prokhanov has called this project an "empire of chunks").

Washington and its NATO allies (except Poland and the Baltic States) for several years did not react to the new trends in Russian politics. However, after the incorporation of Crimea into Russia and the beginning of war in south-eastern Ukraine, their reaction became extremely harsh, especially on the part of President Barack Obama who previously had been accused by the conservative opposition of excessive liberalism and softness towards Moscow. The July tragedy with the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, though its causes are still unknown, has stiffened the crisis to an unprecedented global scale.

For all the complexity of the situation, solutions are simple, and they will be sought not only in negotiations between Kiev and the southeast's representatives, but also in Moscow, Brussels and Washington. Either the West and Russia agree on a mutually acceptable future status of Ukraine and the nature of its relations with the EU and Russia, with its present territorial integrity preserved, or the country will be torn apart, with grave social and political consequences for Europe and the whole world.


The failed unipolar world is being replaced with a polycentric world order based on several major centers of power. However, in contrast to the Concert of Nations (Holy Alliance) of the 19th century, the present centers of power are not equal in might and have different social systems, which are not stable yet in many respects. Although the United States' role is declining, it still remains the leading global center of power economically (about 20 percent of world GDP), politically and militarily. China, which generates 13 percent of world GDP, is catching up with the U.S. on all counts. The European Union (19 percent of world GDP) and Japan (6 percent) can play leading roles in economy, but politically and militarily they depend on the United States and are integrated in U.S.-led alliances along with some regional countries (Turkey, Israel, South Korea, and Australia).

Russia is building its own center of power together with some post-Soviet countries. However, while enjoying global nuclear and political status and strengthening regional general-purpose forces, it still does not meet financial and economic standards of a world center of power due to its relatively modest GDP (3 percent of world GDP) and, even more importantly, due to its economy and foreign trade underpinned by the export of natural resources.

India is a leading regional center of power (5 percent of world GDP), along with some other countries (Brazil, South Africa, ASEAN countries and, potentially in the future, Iran). But there is no military-political alliance among Russia, China, India, and Brazil, and there are no signs it may be established in the future. Individually, these countries are noticeably inferior to the established military-political and the emerging economic alliance among the U.S., the EU, Japan, and South Korea.

In the last decade, the polycentric world has again begun to be divided into opposing groups of countries. One line of division lies between Russia and NATO/EU over the latter's eastward enlargement and the European missile defense program, and was further deepened by the events in Ukraine. Another line of tensions runs between China and the U.S. and its Asian allies as they seek military and political domination in the western part of the Asia-Pacific region, control over natural resources and their transportation routes, and influence in financial and economic decision-making.

Objectively, the logic of a polycentric world pushes Russia and China towards closer partnership, and prompts the CIS/CSTO/SCO/BRICS to create economic and political counterweights to the West (U.S./NATO/Israel/Japan, South Korea/Australia). However, these trends are unlikely to evolve into a new bipolarity comparable to that in the Cold War era. Economic ties between major members of the SCO/BRICS and the West are much broader than among themselves, and they are highly dependent on its investments and advanced technologies. (For example, the volume of trade between Russia and China is only one-fifth of EU-Russia trade and one-tenth of China's trade with the U.S., the EU and Japan). Inside the CIS/CSTO/SCO/BRICS, there are more profound differences (Russia–Ukraine, China–India, Armenia–Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan–Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan–Uzbekistan) than between members of these associations and the West. Also, there are many differences between the U.S. and European countries on many economic and political issues, especially regarding relations with Russia.

The Ukrainian crisis has not yet resolved the contradiction between tendencies towards polycentricity and new bipolarity. Rather, it exposed the nature of the emerging asymmetrical and elusive polycentricity. During the UN vote on the Crimean referendum in March Russia was unequivocally supported by ten countries, while the U.S., by 99 countries (including all NATO and EU members). But eighty-two countries (40 percent of UN members) chose not to take either side in order to keep their relations with Washington and Moscow intact. None of the SCO/BRICS countries supported Russia, and only two members of the CIS and the CSTO—Belarus and Armenia—clearly supported Moscow. But shortly after that, the Belarusian president went to Kiev and called for a return of Crimea to Ukraine in the indefinite future. Georgia, which had quit the CIS, three CIS countries, opposed Russia (Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine), and even its traditional partners such as Serbia, Iran, Mongolia, and Vietnam offered no backing. However, there is no unity among the U.S. allies either. Israel, Pakistan, Iraq, Paraguay, and Uruguay declined to side with Washington. Still greater discord can be seen in NATO and the EU over sanctions and the new policy of containing Russia.

Importantly, all these countries and groups are integrated into one global financial and economic system. On the one hand, this enabled the West to impose economic sanctions on Russia, with quite tangible effects in the long term. On the other hand, for the same reason harsher, sectoral, sanctions may boomerang against their initiators and have not been unanimously supported by U.S. allies and U.S. businesses. Russia's countermeasures against food imports from the West have affected their economies, but they can hit Russian consumers even harder, despite promises to find new suppliers and increase domestic food production (the Soviet Union could not do that over 70 years of its existence, and Russia has similarly failed over the next quarter of a century).

Generally, a common economic basis, unlike in the Cold War years, must serve as a powerful stabilizing factor for political fluctuations. However, recent experience has demonstrated an enormous opposite impact of politics: the aggravation of relations between Russia and the West is ruining their economic cooperation and the global security system.

If Ukraine is torn apart and if a new line of confrontation emerges between Russia and the West along some internal Ukrainian border, many elements of Cold War relations will be re-established between them for a long time. Renowned U.S. political scientist Robert Legvold writes: "Although this new Cold War will be fundamentally different from the original, it will still be immensely damaging. Unlike the original, the new one won't encompass the entire global system. The world is no longer bipolar, and significant regions and key players, such as China and India, will avoid being drawn in. […] Yet the new Cold War will affect nearly every important dimension of the international system." (Managing the New Cold War. Foreign Affairs, July/August 2014) Among areas where cooperation between Russia and the West will be stopped, Legvold names negotiations to resolve differences over the European component of the U.S. missile program; the development of energy resources in the Arctic; reforms of the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and the settlement of local conflicts in the post-Soviet region and beyond. One can also add to this list cooperation in combating international terrorism and drug-trafficking, and countering Islamic extremism—the main global and transborder threat facing both Russia and the West. The offensive of Islamic fighters in Iraq has come as a reminder of this threat.

In these circumstances, the arms race will inevitably accelerate, especially in high-tech areas such as information management systems, high-precision conventional defensive and offensive armaments, boost-glide and, possibly, fractional-orbital systems. Yet this arms race will hardly compare in scale and pace with the nuclear and conventional arms race of the Cold War times, mainly due to the limited resources available to the leading powers and alliances.

Even amid the unprecedentedly acute Ukrainian crisis, the U.S. continues to cut its defense budget and cannot make its NATO allies ramp up their military spending. Russia's economic and technological possibilities are still more limited, and the costs of a new arms race will be relatively higher for it. These factors will inevitably lead the arms control negotiations to a deadlock, and the existing arms limitation and non-proliferation system (above all, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, the New START Treaty of 2010 and even the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) may collapse.

If there emerges a crisis between China and the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific, China will move closer to Russia. But Beijing is unlikely to make sacrifices for the sake of Russian interests; instead, it will seek to use Russia's resources for rivalry with its own opponents in Asia and the Pacific (the Chinese call Russia their "resource rear," obviously thinking this flatters Moscow). At the same time, China will hardly want to exacerbate relations with the U.S.—tensions between Russia and West place Beijing in the most advantageous position in a polycentric world. Paradoxically, China has become a factor that balances relations between the West and the East (represented by Russia), a position Moscow has always sought to take.

Russian foreign-policy makers and diplomats for twenty years advocated the concept of polycentric world as an alternative to American unipolarity. But in reality Moscow appeared to be unprepared for such a system of relations as it has not yet grasped its basic rule, which was well known to Russian chancellors of the 19th century—Karl Nesselrode and Alexander Gorchakov. The rule is: one should make compromises on individual issues in order to have closer relations with other centers of power than they have among themselves. Then one can receive concessions from all and everyone, gaining from the sum-total of interests realized.

Meanwhile, Russia's current relations with the U.S. and the EU are worse than relations between them and China, let alone between themselves. This factor may pose big problems for Moscow in the foreseeable future. The wedge driven between Moscow and Washington (and its allies in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region) will be taking its toll on Russia for years. The giant of China is hanging over Siberia and the Russian Far East, but one can make friends with China only on its own terms. Unstable countries threatened by Islamic extremism adjoin Russia's south. In the European part, Russia is bordered by not very friendly countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and not very predictable partners such as Belarus. Certainly, Russia is facing no risk of international isolation or military aggression, despite the new U.S. policy of containment. But nor did the Soviet Union face such risks. Besides, it was much larger, stronger economically and militarily, had secured borders, and did not depend so heavily on world oil and gas prices. Yet how the Soviet Union ended up in 1991 is well known.

If Russia and the West reach a compromise on the future of Ukraine, acceptable to both Kiev and the southeast of the country, it will take some time before cooperation resumes, but gradually the confrontation will be overcome and the formation of a polycentric world will begin. It can serve as the basis for a new, more balanced and stable world order, albeit much more complex and volatile. It must address problems of the 21st century, rather than return to politics of the past century and earlier times such as overthrowing undesirable regimes, imposing one's values and customs on other nations, entering into geopolitical rivalry, and redrawing national borders by force to remedy historical injustices.

Only such new basis will make it possible to significantly enhance the role and efficiency of international norms, organizations and supranational institutions. The fundamental commonness of interests in a multipolar world warrant greater solidarity and restraint in choosing instruments for pursing one's interests than the fear of a nuclear catastrophe did in the last century. This is required by new security challenges—the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the growth of Islamic extremism and international terrorism. Among other factors are the mounting climatic and environmental problems; shortages of energy resources, fresh water and foodstuffs; the population explosion; uncontrollable migration; and the threat of global epidemics.

The policies of the European Union, India and Japan are predictable within a narrow range of options. The decisive role in shaping the future world order will be played by the policy course to be adopted by the United States, China and Russia. Without falling into neo-isolationism, the U.S. will have to adapt to the realities of a polycentric and interdependent world in which arbitrary use of force will be tantamount to throwing stones in a glass house. As the most powerful member of such a world order, America can play a very important role, acting within the framework of international law and legitimate institutions. But any attempts at hegemony and the rule of force will meet with sabotage on the part of U.S. allies and resistance from other global and regional powers.

China should avoid the temptation to build up weapons stockpiles and conduct a forcible policy to meet its growing resource requirements. Otherwise, neighboring countries in the west, south and east will unite against it under U.S. leadership. China's fast-growing economic power should boost its global economic and political influence accordingly, but this must be done peacefully by mutual agreement with other countries.

As for Russia, it can become a full-fledged global center of power only if it moves from a resource-based to a high-tech economy. This implies taking vigorous efforts to break the looming political and economic stagnation threatening to plunge the country into a steep decline. But this can be achieved only if Russia abandons the great-power rhetoric and narcissism regarding metaphysical spiritual traditions, autarky, and the hopes of making the defense industry a locomotive of economic growth (as the USSR had been doing until it collapsed). All this may temporarily rekindle patriotic feelings in society, but will most likely exacerbate Russia's problems. Real economic progress will require, above all, democratic political and institutional reforms: genuine separation and regular change of powers, fair elections, disengagement of government officials and lawmakers from business, an active civil society, independent media, and much more. There is no other way for large investments and high technologies to come to Russia—they will not be generated by internal sources, and they will not come from the West or China which itself gets these assets from countries with innovation-based economies.

Perhaps, very few critics of the present philosophy and practices of "Eurasianism," conservatism and national-romanticism could express the idea of ??the European alternative better and more convincingly than Vladimir Putin himself. Several years ago, he wrote: "This choice was largely predetermined by the national history of Russia. The spirit and culture of our country make it an integral part of European civilization [...] Today, when we are building a sovereign democratic state, we fully share the basic values and principles that make up the outlook of most Europeans. [...] We view European integration as an objective process that is an integral part of the emerging world order. [...] The development of diversified ties with the EU is Russia's fundamental choice." (V. Putin. Fifty Years of European Integration and Russia. March 25, 2007)

According to this ideology, which must serve as the foundation of public life and mentality, Russia is to return to the European path of development, which should not be confused with trade flows and pipeline routes. The European path primarily implies the transformation of Russia's economic and political system in accordance with basic European norms and institutions, while taking into account Russian needs and peculiarities of the current phase of its historical development.

Georgy Toloraya / On Geopolitical Configurations in Asia (Георгий Толорая / О геополитических конфигурациях в Азии) / Russia, March, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance

The territory to the east of the Ural Mountains from time immemorial was called by Europeans Asia. In fact it was the name of everything known in this erawhich was not Europe on the Eurasian continentfrom the Bosporus to Japan (up to the place "where the sun rises").[1]

After the increased U.S. involvement in Asian affairs in the wake of the Second World War the term Asia and the Pacific started to be used widely, connecting the U.S. directly with the region. Now the general understanding is that Asia and the Pacific is "the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean. It typically includes much of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. The term may also include Russia (on the North Pacific) and countries in North and South America which are on the coast of the Eastern Pacific Ocean."[2]

The term has become especially popular in economics and politics since the late 1980s due to globalization, as most of the nations within that area are emerging markets experiencing rapid growth. The APEC basic framework adds Pacific-facing Latin American nations to the region, with Australia and Oceania considered part of the APR as well. So it stretches all the way from the Arctic to Antarctica.

Lately a construct of Indo-Pacific has emerged, supported by India and now enthusiastically embraced by the United States (in fact, this term was widely used by the U.S. Navy to describe the area of responsibility of PACOM, ignoring geographical and natural borders). It includes the Indian Ocean up to the coast of Africa and in fact covers the most of the Third World.

As such, due to its civilizational, political, and economic diversity and poor logistical connectivity, countries in this Indo-Pacific area has little in common with each other and this area hardly deserves to be called a "region" at all.[3] The reason for its introduction is widely believed to be the need to bring India into scheme to "encircle" China as a U.S. chief global adversary and to create QUADa union of "ocean democracies" against the totalitarian empire.

These kinds of geopolitical constructs (and this may not be the last one-there are some in the Atlantic and Eurasia as well) in fact dilute the real problems of regional connectivity, joint efforts, and common regional fate. These "artificial regional" concepts also undermine the true meaning of regional cooperation and security, leaving all the "supranational" governance in the hands of existing global regulators.

In the case of Asia that might not work. Asia proper is the heartland of unique ancient civilizations and long state history, unlike other parts of the globe. It also has a distinct cultural identity developed from a common mold. The regional problems in this area are real and multifold-territorial and political conflicts, natural and man-made disasters, epidemics, transnational crime, and economic integration issues. These problems, although part of the global agenda, can be most effectively solved within the region which has an established state structure, systematic international relations mechanisms and established regional international organizations.

This area is quite distinct and separate. It stretches from Mongolia and Russian Far Eastern provinces in the North, to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in the South, and from Myanmar in the West to Japan in the East .

It is home to 2,261mln people (30% of global population), producing 21,468 billion U.S. dollars (27% of global GDP), generating 4,652 billion U.S. dollars (30% of global exports).

The name Asia might be a misnomer by Ancient Greeks' standards, but the homogenous nature of this area is quite visible. This "CORE ASIA" or "KERNEL ASIA" is the bedrock of regional identity, it has common racial, cultural, religious, and civilizational peculiarities, making "Asians" quite noticeable in any part of the world.

Of course, there may rise a question, why Central Asia, politically and economically very much connected, is not included into Core (Kernel) Asia (this logic would suggest that even Tibet and the Uigur region, ethnically different from the Asian core, should have some different identity, although they are part of China). This is an issue for ethnographers and historians to discuss, but as of now these areas are more connected (not necessarily politically, but culturally and even logistically) with West Asia. In the mealtime the region should be clearly limited by national borders.

What about other resident Pacific nations, like the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and, say, Canada? They do have, of course, vital interests and established channels of interacting with the "Asian core" and even integrating into it. However, with all due respect, they are external partners and should be rule-takers, not rule-makers in the region. Of course, from the position of political realism, the U.S.'s and its military allies' role will not suddenly disappear. But it is necessary to separate politics and military security from national identity and geography. Otherwise the logic of natural development would be substituted by political and strategic interests, not necessarily beneficial to the regional nations.

The burning question is the "elephant in the room." Does this concept mean that CHINA will naturally dominate this region? Not necessarily, especially now that "the Westphalian system of Asia" is in the making. On the contrary, joint rule-making can help control Chinese policy and make China respect other actors' interests and concerns, providing for indivisibility of peace.

The alternative is the creation of dividing lines and block-building (the latest example being QUAD). Nothing can do more harm to the peoples of Asia, than contrasting "continental" and "ocean" states or "democracies" and "non-democracies."

There is also a strong established grouping, claiming the "driver's seat" and "central role" in Asian affairs-ASEAN and the mechanisms created by it (ARF, ADMM+, EAS etc). The "CORE ASIA" concept may be much more appropriate for ASEAN than the "Maritime Southeast Asia" idea nurtured in certain quarters. ASEAN's self-proclaimed "central role" in the Asia-Pacific community-building, much heralded since 1990s, has somehow been diluted due to new geopolitical tendencies.

If the "CORE ASIA" approach is adopted, ASEAN and the ARF will have to concentrate on the efforts to work out some kind of region-wide security "code of conduct," or "manual," or "terms of reference" for Preventive Diplomacy which they can adopt on the official level as guidelines. These "guidelines" could serve beyond the ASEAN geographical scope as a norm-setting example in the whole of Asia Pacific or in other troublesome areas like Africa. Such efforts would bring in China and other influential regional players into coordinating policies and compromise-seeking and also help increase compliance. After all of regional nation-states have been "entrusted" with setting up rules without outside interference, China will have only one vote, while ASEANwill have ten.

[1] The word Asia originated from the Ancient Greek word Aσiα, first attributed to Herodotus (about 440 BCE) in reference to Anatolia or to the Persian Empire, in contrast to Greece and Egypt. Eventually, however, the name was expanded progressively further east, until it came to encompass a much larger land area with which we associate it today. One of the first classical writers to use Asia as a name of the whole continent was Pliny. Wikipedia contributors, "Asia", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 5, 2018).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, "Asia Pacific", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 5, 2018).

[3] A region is defined as "part of the Earth's surface with one or many similar characteristics that make it unique from other areas. Regional geography studies the specific unique characteristics of places related to their culture, economy, topography, climate, politics, and environmental factors such as their different species of flora and fauna". Wikipedia contributors, "Region", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 5, 2018).

President Ramaphosa aims for stronger BRICS (Президент Рамафоса стремится к усилению БРИКС) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: Cyril_Ramaphosa, SA_chairmanship, quotation
South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is looking forward to strengthening relations between South Africa and other members of the BRICS countries.

The President emphasised the importance of South Africa's relations with members of the BRICS countries during his engagements with the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation.

In his first engagement with the bloc's members since his election, President Ramaphosa received a courtesy call from Yang Jiechi, Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China and member of the State Council of China.

Yang conveyed to President Ramaphosa President Xi's personal congratulations as well as the best wishes of the government and the people of China on President Ramaphosa's election to the position of President.

President Ramaphosa in turn conveyed his congratulations and those of the people of South Africa on the recent re-election of President Xi as leader of the People's Republic of China.

In turn, President Ramaphosa said the re-election of President Xi presented an opportunity for South Africa to deepen its strategic and historic political, economic, social and international cooperation with China at a personal, bilateral, regional and global level.

Both parties have agreed to State visits. President Ramaphosa said he is eagerly awaiting a visit by President Xi to South Africa in July ahead of South Africa's hosting of the 10th BRICS Summit in which Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will participate.

President Ramaphosa will pay a state visit to China ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, which President Ramaphosa will co-chair with President Xi, to be held in Beijing in the latter part of this year, with the theme to strongly focus on a shared future based on a win-win relationship.

China has invited South Africa to participate in the first China Import Expo to be held in November 2018 as a guest country.

President Ramaphosa also invited China to support initiatives aimed at South Africa's economic recovery, including amongst others, driving the need for greater imports from Africa to China and participation in the upcoming Jobs Summit and Investment Summit.

In his second engagement, President Ramaphosa, on a call with Moscow, congratulated President Vladimir Putin on his re-election by the people of the Russian Federation.

President Ramaphosa said Russia remained an important partner to South Africa and Africa at large, as evidenced by its support for countries of the South in multilateral fora and associations such as BRICS.

President Putin reciprocated by congratulating President Ramaphosa on his assumption of the Presidency and said the Russian Federation stood ready to deepen bilateral relations, notably in the economic terrain.

President Ramaphosa looks forward to hosting President Putin at the BRICS Summit in July, which will signify the beginning of the second decade of cooperation among this group of emerging markets which have a range of developmental advances and challenges in common. –
'BRICS visa will accelerate rate of business' (Виза БРИКС ускорит темпы развития бизнеса») / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: quotation, top_level_meeting, brics_visa, Business_council
South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – The South African, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) Business Council says there is an urgent need to promote the facilitation of business Visas for bona fide entrepreneurs.

The council says this will stimulate trade and investment which have always been an important part of the policy formulation and action for the Brics countries.

The team from the council will be accompanying South African delegates to the Brics mid-term meeting in shanghai on Tuesday, where China is set to hand over the chairmanship of Brics to South Africa for the next 12 months.

The council says it will put on the agenda the call on Brics nations to accelerate the introduction of a Brics business travel card.

Chairperson Sunil Geness says reduction of trade barriers by Brics nations will create the platform to accelerate growth and prosperity.

"The Brics business Visa card is to ensure that there is a smooth migration of human traffic and thereby ensuring that business progresses at its fastest pace and money has a time value, and has cost structure so by being able to put in place the Brics Visa card we believe that we can accelerate the rate of business."
Shraddha Naik / Rising BRICS: a Path to Multipolar World Reality? (Шраддха Наик / Усиливающася роль БРИКС: путь к многополярной мировой реальности?) / India, March, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance
Author: Shraddha Naik

The discourse over change in the world order from a unipolar to multipolar has gained major attention in the recent times. While the United States upholds the pivotal power position in the international system it has experienced relative economic decline in the recent periods. The economic growth among the countries of the Global South has led to their emergence as a new power contender in the international system. The grouping of Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa (BRICS) has fi rmly developed an interregional set up trying to add a new constellation in the world order. It has emerged as a new region of their own with certain shared similarities and common objectives. The group aims to create a niche in international system by creating supplementary intuitions. Adopting reformist attitude, the group stresses on the creation of a multipolar world order demanding recognition to the rising powers of the twenty-fi rst century. The countries are asserting for expansion of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and reforms in the international fi nancial institutions. The group has pioneered a new discourse of the Global South on the Responsibility while Protecting and Climate Change. However, the internal rivalries and recent slow growth of members leads to the speculation of the group in coordinating in its endeavour of multipolar world reality. Highlighting the BRICS as a new set of interregional interactions among the emerging powers, the paper while discussing the achievements and divergences of the grouping will assess its capability and efforts in creating a multipolar world order.
Emerging powers must be at the global high table (Новые державы должны находиться на видном месте) / India, March, 2018
Keywords: global_governance, expert_opinion
Author: Shashi Tharoor

Amid the understandable focus on the backlash against globalization so apparent around the world, with the increasing conviction that "Davos Man has no clothes", anguished op-eds ask: Can globalization be saved? But in the process, we seem to have lost sight of a larger development—that the future of the international system that arose in the immediate aftermath of World War II is itself being called into question.

After two World Wars, numerous civil wars, colonial oppression, and the horrors of the Holocaust and Hiroshima, the far-sighted statesmen of the mid-1940s decided that liberal internationalism, based on the United Nations charter and allied institutions, was the only way to prevent more carnage. For seven decades, that system has largely achieved its goals.

The "old world order" built in 1945 broadly ensured world peace and prevented a third World War, although at the cost of shifting many conflicts to the global periphery. And it did not benefit only the developed world; it also ensured decolonization, promoted development, and found ways to accommodate the voices of newly emerging countries, even if it hasn't always accommodated their aspirations.

Yet, it is clear that existing arrangements are no longer adequate, as countries like China and India have demonstrated in their demand for greater clout—and in their willingness to explore smaller groupings like Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to pool their resources and push for a new order. The existing world powers, however, have made it clear they will not cede influence so easily, even if their leaders complain about the very institutions where their influence is exercised.

Change has been excruciatingly slow in coming. It is absurd that China's voting power in the World Bank was the same as Belgium's till 2010 and at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the same till just over two years ago. But the G20's effort to create parity in these institutions between the advanced economies and the emerging and transition countries had ground to a halt. Although US leaders technically agreed to IMF voting reforms at the Pittsburgh meeting of the G20 in 2008, the US Congress did not ratify them till a modest change finally occurred in December 2015, nearly eight years later.

It is important to note that countries like China and India— unlike, say, Germany and Japan a century ago—are not seeking to overturn the world order. They seek to obtain redress within the broad framework rather than destabilize the framework itself. All that the "emerging powers" want is a place at the high table. After all, countries realize that in the global system, you are either at the table or on the menu. What the emerging powers have been doing so far is not challenging the global system as much as calling for a new design for world order.

They are entitled to play a key role in helping shape the global order. The international system of the 21st century will have to be more like the World Wide Web: a place of networked partnerships, with links in all directions, some overlapping, others not. The leading lights of the new global system will need to renegotiate its rules of the road; those who have been rule takers for long now feel ready to be rule makers.

India is well qualified, along with others, to help write those rules and define the norms that will guide tomorrow's world. Rather than confining itself to being a subject of others' rule-making, or even a resister of others' attempts, it is in the interests of a country like India (and within India's current and future capacity) to take the initiative to shape the evolution of these norms as well as to have a voice in the situations within which they are applied. We have the capacity, the resources and the technological skill to help craft global approaches in a variety of areas from cyber space to outer space. But right now, we have no locus standi to do so.

If countries like China and India are denied a place at the global high table, they have only two choices: either continue to accept a second-class seat in the existing system, or challenge the system itself. China, confronting the inadequacies of Bretton Woods, has made it clear that it has little choice but to build its own structures, in its image and in a different mould. The Brics's New Development Bank is essentially the Chinese showing the world that in the absence of a level-playing field within the existing system, they are prepared to construct their own playing field. In this case, India was happy to play along: it had an interest in sending the same message, though its capabilities are very different from China's.

This is not surprising. As countries acquire economic and military power, they start exercising their geopolitical muscle. The challenge for advocates of world order is to accommodate emerging powers within a framework of universal and stable rules and global structures that ensure everyone a fair deal, appropriate for their size, capabilities, and contributions to the international system. The leaders of the developed West will have to reconcile themselves to this, and make room with grace, instead of undermining these institutions by stubbornly clinging on to their positions of privilege within them.

They are not, however, doing so. Today's world leaders appear to lack the breadth of vision and the generosity of spirit of those who created the post-1945 world order. By controlling access to the system they dominate and barring the door to new entrants, they have left those outside little choice. A country like China has shown, through its Belt and Road Initiative, that it is capable of constructing an entirely alternative global system to the prevailing one. What that might mean for the world order established in 1945 is anybody's guess.

Globalization can still be rescued, but we need to allow new players to do the rescuing. Don't send in the Marines.

China preparing for Vladimir Putin's visit (Китай готовится к визиту Владимира Путина) / Russia, March, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, vladimir_putin, Russia_China

BEIJING, March 19. /TASS/. China's authorities are preparing for Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China scheduled for this year, said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying at Monday's regular briefing.

"Putin will visit our country this year according to the plan of the annual regular exchange of visits between the Russian and Chinese leaders. We will further maintain close dialogue with the Russian side on this issue through diplomatic channels," she noted.

Hua Chunying reiterated that the Russian leader, like China's President Xi Jinping, made a great contribution to development of relations between the two states. "Chinese-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership will continue to develop in accordance with the new prospects and will contribute to our common prosperity," the diplomat concluded.

The Russian president is expected to visit China in June to take part in a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that will be held in the city of Qingdao (East China's Shandong province).
Russia's Chelyabinsk to Host BRICS and SCO Summits in 2020 (Российский Челябинск проведет саммиты БРИКС и ШОС в 2020 году) / Kyrgyzstan, March, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting

The Russian city of Chelyabinsk has been chosen as the venue for the meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO member states and the meeting of BRICS leaders in 2020 in accordance with a Decree 'On the Organizing Committee for Preparing and Securing the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2019–2020 and in the BRICS Union in 2020' signed by President Vladimir Putin.

"Since 2015, the Chelyabinsk Region administration has been systematically preparing for hosting the SCO and BRICS summits," Governor Boris Dubrovsky reported. He stressed that resolution of infrastructure problems related, among other things, to preparing the hotel accommodation would be ensured with the help of private investment.

Earlier, the government of the Chelyabinsk Region approved the roadmap for construction of facilities for the SCO and BRICS summits.

The Decree names the Roscongress Foundation as the sole contractor for procurement of services by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation with regard to preparing and securing the chairmanship of the Russian Federation in SCO and BRICS.

Russia has already hosted such combined summits. For instance, in 2015, the SCO and BRICS summits were held in Ufa and, in 2009, in Ekaterinburg. The SCO summit took place in St. Petersburg in 2002 and in Moscow in 2003 and 1997.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an international organization whose member states include Russia, India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. SCO observer states currently include Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia.

BRICS is an intergovernmental association of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China, and (since December 2010) the Republic of South Africa. Russia initiated the establishment of the association in 2006.
SA ready to take over BRICS Business Council chairmanship (ЮАР готова принять на себя председательство в бизнес-совете БРИКС) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: Business_Council, SA_Chairmanship, quotation
South Africa

This is according to Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of the SA chapter of the BRICS Business Council, who will take up the annual rotating chairmanship of the overall BRICS Business Council (BBC) at the mid-term meeting which takes place in Shanghai, China, next week.

The BRICS membership is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Survé said the mid-term meeting was very important, coming as it does a few short months before the 10th BRICS summit in Gauteng July 25-27, with the BRICS Business Council set to meet in KwaZulu-Natal on July 22-23. A BRICS Business Forum meeting takes place on July 25 in Gauteng.

Established in March 2013 during the fifth BRICS summit in Durban, this year will see South Africa become the first BRICS nation to hold the rotating chairmanship of the BRICS Business Council for a second time. The BRICS Business Council aims to facilitate co-operation between the five countries in various sectors, as well as promote trade and industry.

Commenting on the growing momentum on the African Continental Free Trade Area which saw 44 countries sign the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda, this week, while a number of others, including SA, signed the Kigali Declaration which committed to the establishment of the African economic community which aspires to the free movement of persons and goods to facilitate trade, Survé said: "This is absolutely the best thing to happen to Africa in a very long time."

The AfCFTA agreement is figured to have the potential to bring together 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over US$2.5 trillion if successfully implemented.

Survé said the AfCFTA would allow the BRICS grouping to attract further investment into Africa to create skilled jobs, while more importantly enable increased intra-Africa trade from a lowly 12 percent at present.

"The global norm for intra trade is 30 percent but Africa has not been trading with itself," Survé added. "But Africa is now set for a decade of unbelievable growth and prosperity."

The BRICS nations make up more than 40 percent of the global population and according to Survé the formation of BRICS has proven to be hugely beneficial to Africa as a whole.

"BRICS countries are now Africa's biggest trade partners," he said.

"A number of our initiatives as the BRICS Business Council have been very successful to date, including the launch of the New Development Bank (NDB) also known as the BRICS Bank and the pending formation of the alternative ratings agency. The African Regional Centre of the NDB was launched in Sandton in August 2017, the first of the NDB regional centres to be launched. "

Survé also pointed to the deepening of inter-BRICS relations in areas such as financial services, skills development, manufacturing, and the easing of travel restrictions.

"For Africa, of course, it is important that there is continued infrastructure investment and deepening investment," added Survé, who will be leading around 50 senior business executives from various sectors to the mid-term meeting.

Continued deregulation and the digitalisation of economies are key focal areas, as are the green economy and the energy sector which he described as critical.

"We will also focus on agriculture and the involvement of small farmers on the African continent, incorporating them into the mainstream economy."

The BBC has eight working groups in the areas of infrastructure, manufacturing, financial services, energy and the green economy, skills development, agribusiness, deregulation and regional aviation. "Among the key priorities for my chairmanship will be ensuring skills development and job creation among the youth," he said, citing SA's introduction of a youth initiative and the fact that the BRICS community has the most young people in the world.

"We must strengthen the involvement of youth, women and SMMEs and accelerate the digitilisation of the economy."

According to Survé, realising Africa's full potential will involve the upskilling of young people on the continent and the embracing of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


SABBC Chairman: Dr Iqbal Survé

SABBC Council Members: Stavros Nicolaou and Siyabonga Gama

Manufacturing Working Group Co-chairs: Nizam Kalla and Gilbert Mosena

Skills Development Working Group Chairman: Bhabhalazi Bulunga

Infrastructure Working Group Chairman: Ravindra Nair

Energy and Green Economy Working Group Chairman: Brian Dames

Agribusiness Working Group Chairman: Slauzy Mogami

Regional Aviation Working Group Co-chairs: George Sebulela and Javed Malik

(The Financial Services and Deregulation Working Group Chairs - Geoffrey Qhena and Sunil Geness respectively are unable to attend but will be represented by their deputies)
Minister urges students to lobby BRICS over Palestine (Министр призывает студентов к лоббированию интересов Палестины в БРИКС) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: political_issues
South Africa

South African students should lobby for the issue of Palestine to be included in the BRICS' agenda as part of a multipronged approach to tackling the long-standing Palestinian question, the South African higher education minister has said.

Speaking at the University of Cape Town on 14 March as part of the university's Palestine Solidarity Forum's 14th Israeli Apartheid Week, South Africa's Minister of Higher Education and Training and member of the ruling ANC party's National Executive Committee, Naledi Pandor, said the South African government and the ANC must re-energise their commitment to tackle issues affecting the people of Palestine, but that by calling for an academic boycott the ministry would be infringing upon academic freedom.

"An academic boycott must be organised by academics not the minister of higher education," said Pandor, after delivering a lecture titled "Cutting Ties with Israel: Embassy Downgrade? Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions?"

In a prepared speech for the occasion, Pandor said the failure to make progress towards change in Palestine "may mean we need to identify powerful members of the global community who may give greater impetus to progress in finding a two-state solution; perhaps the BRICS countries should be called on to assume such global leadership".

South Africa is this year's chair of the trade bloc known as BRICS, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Pandor said South Africans should support international struggles for freedom in the same way that the global community stood in solidarity with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

"One of the things we failed to appreciate as South Africans is the immense contribution to our struggle by the international anti-apartheid movement. We enjoyed support from all corners of the world and now that we are free we are ignoring and enjoying our freedom and we have forgotten those who are oppressed in other parts of the world."

"Now that we have achieved our freedom, we must not forget our friends and allies who helped us liberate ourselves," she cautioned.

Israel is an officially Jewish country. Palestine is a set of two separate, ethnically Arab and largely Muslim territories: the West Bank and Gaza. While there is no internationally recognised line between Israel and Palestine, the borders are disputed.

South Africa's ruling ANC recently voted in favour of downgrading the South African embassy in Israel. Pandor said it was not an anti-Israel resolution, but a pro-Palestine resolution.

"There has been consternation in Israel about the ANC decision, but the decision does not detract from our commitment to a two-state solution. It does express our dismay and anger at the absence of any attempt by Israel and its powerful friends in the North to free the people of Palestine from the oppression they suffer today," she said.

Describing the education system for Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories as "deeply discriminatory", she said: "Palestinians receive less funding, fewer teachers, and Arab students and lecturers are underrepresented in Israel's universities and other institutes of higher education".

Drawing links between the Palestinian situation and apartheid in South Africa – where there was fragmentation along racial lines, unequal access to education and training at all levels, and no democratic control within the education system – she said Palestinians currently faced a "similar situation, not only in education but also in other key areas of life".
Ramaphosa reinforces Brics relations with China, Russia (Рамафоса усиливает отношения БРИКС с Китаем и Россией) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: global_governance, Vladimir_Putin, Xi_Jinping, Cyril_Ramaphosa, SA_chairmanship, FOCAC_Summit
South Africa

Johannesburg - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday, underscored the importance of the country's relations with members of the Brics group of countries in engagements with the governments of China and Russia, the Presidency said.

Brics is the association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The Presidency said that Ramaphosa hosted a courtesy call by Yang Jiechi, Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China and member of the State Council of China.

"Mr Yang conveyed to President Ramaphosa President Xi's warmest personal congratulations as well as the best wishes of the government and people of China on President Ramaphosa's election to the position of President in February 2018. President Ramaphosa in turn conveyed his congratulations and those of the people of South Africa on the recent re-election of President Xi as leader of the People's Republic of China," Ramaphosa's office said.

"President Ramaphosa said the re-election of President Xi presented an opportunity for South Africa to deepen its strategic and historic political, economic, social and international cooperation with China at a personal, bilateral, regional and global level. Both parties have agreed to State Visits. President Ramaphosa said he is eagerly awaiting a visit by President Xi to South Africa in July ahead of South Africa's hosting of the 10th Brics Summit in which Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will participate."

The Presidency said that Ramaphosa would also pay a state visit to China ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit. He will co-chair the summit with Xi.

Ramaphosa was on a call with Moscow, on Friday and congratulated President Vladimir Putin on his re-election.

"President Ramaphosa said Russia remained an important partner to South Africa and Africa at large, as evidenced by its support for countries of the South in multilateral fora and associations such as Brics. President Putin reciprocated by congratulating President Ramaphosa on his assumption of the Presidency and said the Russian Federation stood ready to deepen bilateral relations, notably in the economic terrain," Ramaphosa's office said.

"President Ramaphosa looks forward to hosting President Putin at the Brics Summit in July, which wil signify the beginning of the second decade of cooperation among this group of emerging markets which have a range of developmental advances and challenges in common."
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
[Video] Mapping the New Development Bank's path into Africa (Видео: Проладывая путь НБР в Африке) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: ndb, investments, sustainable_development
South Africa
Author: Cyril Prinsloo

Our Economic Diplomacy researcher Cyril Prinsloo speaks to Angelo Coppola from China Global Television Network about the New Development Bank and its potential to advance infrastructure development in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
SA Business Council calls on BRICS to reduce trade barriers (Бизнес-совет ЮАР призывает БРИКС снизить торговые барьеры) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations, social_issues, Business_Council
South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – With the Brics mid-term meeting set to kick start in shanghai in China, the South African Brics Business Council says, the reduction of trade barriers by Brics nations is needed to create the platform to accelerate growth and prosperity.

The team will accompany South African delegates to the meeting this week where China is expected to hand over the chairmanship of Brics to South Africa for the next 12 months.

The council says it will put on the agenda a call for Brics nations to accelerate the introduction of a Brics business travel card.

It says visas for business people should be urgently introduced to enable them to travel with ease among Brics nations

Chairperson Sunil Geness said, "The meeting goes beyond the five countries. It will be a historic moment for South Africa to take over the Brics chairmanship for the second time."

The New Development Bank – Civil BRICS Working Group Dialogue (НБР - Диалог рабочей группы БРИКС) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements
South Africa

African Monitor, in collaboration with Oxfam South Africa, held a two-day dialogue between the New Development Bank (NDB) and other Civil Society Organisations from 8-9 March 2018 in Johannesburg.

Oxfam and AM form part of the Civil Society Organizing committee for the BRICS summit in South Africa. These two organizations also Co-chair the New Development Bank South Africa. The aim of the dialogue was to provide inputs on BRICS NDB through a Civil BRICS working group.

The NDB's five areas of operation are Clean energy; Transport infrastructure; Irrigation, Water resource management and Sanitation; Sustainable urban development and Economic cooperation and integration of member countries.

The meeting comes as South Africa will host the 10th BRICS Summit in July 2018.

The NDB CSO workshop identified the following key issues that CSO would like to engage with the NDB emanating from the General strategy 2017-2021:

  • Driving the implementation of SDGs – The bank will seek to become an important player in helping BRICS; and emerging and developing countries achieve the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and as well as Addis Ababa action agenda on finance for development and Paris agreement on climate change .
  • Promotion of inclusive and broad based Economic growth that reduces poverty and inequality through investment on sustainable infrastructure. It is to be noted the operational strategy defines Sustainable infrastructure as infrastructure that incorporates Economic, Environmental and Social criteria are applied in design, building and operation. It further notes infrastructure as enabler for economic development and job creation. If properly implemented it can promote inclusive growth that reduces inequality.
  • Special fund – Special funds set up by Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) allow capital contributors to support projects and activities that address a variety of development needs.
  • Environmental and social framework- it will consider the social and environmental aspects of the projects as reflected in the Environmental Institutional Framework (ESF).
  • The NDB's commitment to using county systems – country legislation, regulations and oversight procedures including environmental, social, fiduciary and procurement systems.
  • The use of Public – Private Partnerships (PPP) as an important instrument for the bank to leverage resources of private sector and increase its participation in major infrastructure
  • Transparency, integrity and accountability – commitment for promoting transparency and accountability.
  • Gender mainstreaming in NDB operation as well as staffing.
  • Partnerships – NDB's commitment to build a relationship of mutual trust and cooperation with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
African Monitor Director, Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso together with Marianne Bueneventura-Goldman from OXFAM South Africa, took the discussions further as they were invited by Channel Africa Radio to talk about the concerns raised by Civil Society. A representative from the NDB, Tumisang Moleke – who is the acting Director-General – also joined in the conversation. As they were discussing, Ms Mniki-Mangaliso mentioned that civil society appreciates the work and progress that the NDB has made thus far, and also noted the loopholes that the NDB need to address. The radio discussions can be listened here.

Civil BRICS working group concluded that going forward and beyond the upcoming summit, the following action plans should be implemented:

  • Develop a system of monitoring NDB funded projects
  • Enhance CSO understanding NDB funding processes
  • Ongoing CSOs engagement on the environmental and social framework
  • Develop criteria for infrastructure that supports inclusive growth
UNIDO supports BRICS cooperation on e-commerce (ЮНИДО поддерживает сотрудничество БРИКС в области электронной торговли) / Greece, March, 2018
Keywords: digital, trade_relations, UNIDO, SASS

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in cooperation with the Shanghai Academy of Social Science (SASS) has brought together experts from BRICS countries and international organizations to discuss e-commerce.

The main objective of the Expert Group Meeting on "BRICS plus E-commerce Cooperation" was for participants to formulate guidelines for governance on a range of e-commerce resources, including the e-commerce platform, the Charter of E-commerce Industry Alliance, and a BRICS e-commerce cooperation strategy.

E-commerce enables SMEs to connect with the international market, whilst linking customers to manufacturers in an integrated way. This has promoted the globalization of trade, accelerated the circulation of commodities and injected new vitality into production and consumption, thereby contributing to and catalyzing industrial development in an innovative way, helping to reduce poverty, and generating employment for women and youth along the way.

On opening the meeting, which was part of an inter-regional project developed by UNIDO with support from China, Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director of Programme Development and Technical Co-operation at UNIDO, recognized the role of e-commerce in inclusive and sustainable industrial development. He indicated that 2017 was a very positive year for the e-commerce sector in the BRICS, which can be seen in retail e-commerce sales, which stood at $554 billion in 2017. He mentioned that UNIDO has established and expanded partnership with various stakeholders to promote e-commerce development, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), and Alibaba Group among others. He also noted that UNIDO Director General LI Yong recently signed a Joint Declaration to support the UNCTAD initiative on eTrade for All and to deepen the partnership with other agencies.

Representatives from companies from BRICS countries shared e-commerce business models and best practices, and experts from local companies, such as E-center Retail Association Austria and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber also participated in the discussion. All participants acknowledged the importance of promoting cross-border trade through e-commerce development and highlighted the opportunities that e-commerce provides for all countries.

The importance of engaging governmental departments and business associations was stimulated during discussion of a BRICS e-commerce industry alliance to promote the rapid and efficient development of e-commerce in BRICS countries and other emerging economies.

UNIDO is taking a number of actions to promote e-commerce development in BRICS countries, including the production of an annual report in cooperation with SASS, and the development of an online e-commerce training manual to address the skill development barriers in BRICS nations.
BRICS pool of conventional currency reserves can be tested in 2018 — Bank of Russia (Пул БРИКС условных валютных резервов может быть опробован в 2018 году - Банк России) / Russia, March, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, economic_challenges, quotation

BUENOS AIRES, March 20. /TASS/. The pool of BRICS conventional currency reserves can be tested this year, First Deputy Chairperson of the Bank of Russia Kseniya Yudaeva told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting.

"We are preparing for the first testing this year," the banker said.

The goal of the conventional currency reserves pool consists in mutual provision of money denominated in US dollars by central banks of BRICS countries in case of problems with dollar liquidity. The pool agreement was signed on July 15, 2014 at the BRICS summit in Brazil. The pool amounts to $100 bln, including $41 contributed by China, $18 bln by each of Russia, India and Brazil, and $5 bln by South Africa.
SA Brics official upbeat on Africa (Официальный представитель ЮАР в БРИКС оптимистично настроен по поводу Африки) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: Business_Council, SA_Chairmanship, expert_opinion
South Africa

Cape Town - Africa is set for a decade of "unbelievable growth and prosperity", according to Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of the SA chapter of the Brics Business Council. Dr Survé will take up the annual rotating chairmanship of the overall Brics Business Council at a mid-term meeting in Shanghai, China, next week.

The Brics membership is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Dr Survé said the mid-term meeting was very important, coming a few months before the 10th Brics summit in Gauteng from July 25-27, with the Brics Business Council set to meet in KwaZulu-Natal on July 22-23.

A Brics Business Forum meeting takes place on July 25 in Gauteng.

Established in March 2013 during the fifth Brics summit in Durban, this year will see South Africa become the first Brics nation to hold the rotating chairmanship of the Brics Business Council for a second time.

The Brics Business Council aims to facilitate co-operation between the five countries in various sectors and promote trade and industry.

The growing momentum within the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement saw 44 countries sign the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda, this week, while a number of others, including South Africa, signed the Kigali Declaration, which committed to the establishment of the African economic community, which aspires to the free movement of persons and goods to facilitate trade.

Commenting on the above, Survé said: "This is absolutely the best thing to happen to Africa in a very long time." The AfCFTA agreement is figured to have the potential to bring together 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over $2.5 trillion if successfully implemented.

Survé said the AfCFTA would allow the Brics grouping to attract further investment into Africa to create skilled jobs while, more importantly,

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Fostering African unity – one BRICS at a time (Содействие африканскому единству - кирпичик за кирпичиком) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, political_issues, SA_chairmanship
South Africa
Author: Oscar van Heerden

The South African government should invite the two key economic powerhouses from each of the four regions on the continent to the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July.

Come July 2018 South Africa will be hosting the 10th Summit of the BRICS group in Johannesburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa is afforded an opportunity to place Africa high on the agenda.

The conundrum, however, is that I'm not convinced the South African government is clear about what our "national interests" are, and as such, they will not be able to seize this opportunity to its fullest.

A cursory look at the theory of International Relations tells us that the Realist School comprising Neo-Realist or Neo-Conservatives have a world view that says,

The world is anarchic

There exists no global authority that can manage/control such anarchy

And therefore, you are on your own as a country

The fittest and strongest thus survive

This is the basic premise from which Realists depart and hence they invest nothing in the United Nations and other such global multilateral forums. They invest heavily in their own military industrial complexes, including nuclear arsenals, and take a very aggressive stand when it comes to their economic interests. This prowess is informed squarely by what they refer to as their "national interests".

In short, the national interest, often referred to by the French expression raison d'Etat (reason of state), is a country's goals and ambitions, whether economic, militarily, or culturally. This concept is the foundation of the realist school.

The first thinker to advocate for the primacy of national interest is considered to be Niccolo Machiavelli. The concept was born out of the tension that was there between the Church and State in the 16th century. Hence the concept was defended as "a means between what conscience permits and affairs require".

The argument goes further: it is a form of reason "born of the calculation and the ruse of men" and makes of the state "a knowing machine, a work of reason"; the state ceases to be derived from the divine order and is henceforth subject to its own particular necessities.

In other words it's about self-interest when dealing with affairs of state.

Now, our continued participation in the BRICS formation and what ultimately we want to gain and benefit from such a grouping must remain uppermost in our collective minds. President Cyril Ramaphosa has a good opportunity as the incumbent Chairperson of the BRICS grouping this year. An opportunity – because this can be a time to yet again put Africa high on the agenda.

However, collaboration between Dirco and DTI in hosting the next session of BRICS is required. In my opinion, the South African government should invite the two key economic powerhouses from each of the four regions on the continent as well as the third economy that show the most promise and growth in each of the regions as well.

In other words, in southern Africa, besides South Africa of course, Angola and the DRC should be invited, and Botswana as a third participant. East Africa, I suggest Kenya and Ethiopia with perhaps Uganda as a third participant. West Africa, it would be Ghana and Nigeria and a third participant could be Cote D'ivoire and finally North Africa would be Egypt and Algeria with Tunisia as the third participant.

Now, these invitees should not just participate and have a seat at the table; no, parallel to the BRICS summit, trade and investment sessions must be held with all the countries, in other words Brazil must sit with all if not most of the African countries and hammer out a clear trade path among each other.

Similarly, China and India must follow suit and all this must take place under the guidance and direction of the South Africans.

Now I know a similar strategy was employed by China at the last BRICS summit but what could be different with the South African chapter is that the SA government should also invite the main cities of these powerhouses. Yes, the mayors and senior officials should be invited to run alongside the summit in much the same way the cities did it in Paris with the signing of the Paris Accord on climate change. Everyone knows that the theatres where all the socio-economic challenges play out are our cities and that's why they deserve a seat at the big table.

The department of trade and industry must step up and co-ordinate all these sessions. Dirco must manage the necessary additional requirements and of critical importance is what it is that South Africa wants from all these countries, both BRICS partners and its continental partners.

What are the national interests of South Africa? Do we know?

We must be seen as leading the African delegation and as such I propose that an African summit in preparation to the BRICS summit be organised by the South African government.

Africa continues to aspire towards greater achievements as we all know.

This is why according to the AU's Agenda 2063, we are told that as Africans we strive towards the attainment of seven strategic goals.

It states that we are determined to eradicate poverty in one generation and build shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent.

  • An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa's Renaissance. It goes on that since 1963, the quest for African unity has been inspired by the spirit of Pan-Africanism, focusing on liberation and political and economic independence. It is motivated by development based on self-reliance and self-determination of African people, with democratic and people-centred governance;
  • An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law'
  • Furthermore, Africa shall have a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;
  • A peaceful and secure Africa;
    Mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels. As a first step, dialogue-centred conflict prevention and resolution will be actively promoted in such a way that by 2020 all guns will be silent. A culture of peace and tolerance shall be nurtured in Africa's children and youth through peace education. An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics. Pan-Africanism and the common history, destiny, identity, heritage, respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people's and her diasporas will be entrenched.
  • An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children. All the citizens of Africa will be actively involved in decision-making in all aspects. Africa shall be an inclusive continent where no child, woman or man will be left behind or excluded, on the basis of gender, political affiliation, religion, ethnic affiliation, locality, age or other factors;
  • Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner;
  • Africa shall be a strong, united, resilient, peaceful and influential global player and partner with a significant role in world affairs.
But what are South Africa's strategic goals with regards to the continent and the rest of the world?

If we are unable to answer this most basic question, it will be at our own peril. We know where Africa wants to be and see itself in years to come, let's now be equally sure where we see South Africa in the next few decades and let's build towards that future, BRICS by BRICS. DM
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
South Africa's data is the third most expensive within BRICS countries (Данные в Южной Африке являются третьими в рейтинге самых дорогих среди стран БРИКС) / South Africa, March, 2018
Keywords: digital, trade_relations, rating
South Africa

South African's feel like they pay a lot for data. One needs simply to tap "datamustfall" into Twitter to see how widespread the opinion is.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has taken a look at the claims made by the public and compared the cost of data within Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the BRICS nations.

Its findings are published in a report analysing the tariff plans offered by local operators.

Icasa looked at the price of 500MB, 1GB and 2GB packages in each country and compared them. The prices are listed in US dollars using the global market exchange rate.

From the data we can see that China is the most expensive territory to buy data in the BRICS nations with 500MB costing you $28.75 on average. South Africa is the third most expensive trailing just behind our Brazilian peers.

The data above however only looks at the average cost of data. Icasa also looked at the cheapest and most expensive data packages in each of the BRICS nations.

In South Africa the body found that the difference between the cheapest ($7.15) and most expensive 2GB package ($19.57) was as much as $12.42. The same trend can be seen in other data packages.

In some instances one could actually use the difference between the cheapest and highest data package to purchase the cheapest package again.

There is however, some good news.

When looking at the countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) the price of data in South Africa is actually below the average.

"SA does not have the most expensive prepaid data bundle prices for the 500MB, 1GB and 2GB in the SADC region. It is also not the cheapest, however, its prices are below the average price of all the SADC prices across the categories," said Icasa.

The title of most expensive data in the SADC region goes to Botswana where 500MB will cost you $26.95 and Zimbabwe where 1GB and 2GB of data will cost you $30 and $50 respectively.

You can find the full Icasa report here.

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