Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 5.2022
2022.01.31 — 2022.02.06
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Russia, China to fortify contacts, economic partnership through BRICS, G20, says statement (Россия и Китай будут укреплять контакты и экономическое партнерство через БРИКС и G20, говорится в заявлении) / Russia, Febraury, 2022
Keywords: concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting
Source: link

Russia and China plan to jointly promote the invigorated spirit of solidarity and cooperation within the G20

BEIJING, February 4. /TASS/. Russia and China will fortify strategic contacts and economic partnership due to such important multisided cooperation formats as BRICS and G20, according to a joint statement Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping adopted at a meeting in the Chinese capital on Friday.

"The sides support the G20 format as an important forum for discussing international economic cooperation issues and anti-crisis response measures," according to the statement released on the Kremlin's website.

"The sides support the deepened strategic partnership within BRICS, promote the expanded cooperation in three main areas: politics and security, economy and finance, and humanitarian exchanges," the statement reads.

Moscow and Beijing plan to jointly promote the invigorated spirit of solidarity and cooperation within the G20, support the leading role of the association in such areas as the international fight against epidemics, world economic recovery, inclusive sustainable development, improving the global economic governance system in a fair and rational manner to collectively address global challenges, according to the statement.

"Russia and China intend to encourage interaction in the fields of public health, digital economy, science, innovation, and technology, including artificial intelligence technologies, as well as the increased coordination between BRICS countries on international platforms," the document said.

Moreover, the Russian side will fully support the Chinese side chairing the association in 2022, and assist in the fruitful holding of the 14th BRICS summit.

FM emphasizes cooperation in meeting with Lavrov (Глава МИД подчеркнул важность сотрудничества во встрече с Лавровым) / China, February, 2022
Keywords: Sergey_Lavrov, Wang_Yi, foreign_ministers_meeting

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, making final political preparations for the meeting of the two heads of states of the two countries.

Calling Lavrov an old friend, Wang welcomed his visit -- which happened during the Chinese Spring Festival and a day before the Beijing Winter Olympics begin.

President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will hold their first in-person meeting on Friday in more than two years, planning and charting China-Russia relations in the post-pandemic era, Wang said.

The meeting shows high-level strategic cooperation between the two countries and mutual trust and friendship between the two heads of state, he added.

Noting last year marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, Wang said the two countries had solemnly celebrated the events under the leadership and guidance of the two heads of state and China-Russia relations have new opportunities for development.

Wang expressed the willingness to further enhance mutual connectivity with Russia by positively promoting cooperation across the whole energy industrial chain .

He also called on the two countries to promote steady pragmatic cooperation by enhancing mutual understanding and trust as well as bolstering the alignment of measures to curb cross-border transmission of the pandemic and ensure regular exchanges.

Promoting the dovetailing of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union was an important consensus reached by the two heads of state, Wang said.

Under the guidance of implementing the consensus of the two heads of state, Wang said China was ready to work with Russia to stay committed to deepening bilateral longstanding friendship and comprehensive strategic coordination, and resolutely safeguard international fairness and justice to better benefit peoples of the two countries and the world.

Lavrov said the upcoming meeting between the heads of China and Russia carried significant importance for further deepening bilateral relations, promoting the building of a modern international relations system and advancing global sustainable development.

High-level strategic coordination and close collaboration was the shared consensus of the two countries, immune to the effects of the international situation and conducive to enhancing stability and predictability of international relations, he said.

Russia appreciated China's efforts to deepen bilateral cooperation, he said, adding the country stood ready to work with China to strengthen links between the building of the Belt and Road Initiative and EAEU to expand bilateral common interests.

As Beijing will become the first dual Olympic city in the world, the Russian foreign minister said he believed the world would witness China's extraordinary abilities to host a spectacular international sports events and overcome the impact of the ravaging pandemic.

Both sides unanimously agreed to promote the Olympic spirit, rejected the politicization of sports and supported the successful holding of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

The two sides also compared notes and coordinated their stances on regional and international issues of common concern, such as BRICS cooperation and the situations in Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Korean Peninsula.

Russia briefed China on the latest updates in its relations the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, emphasizing the principled position that security is indivisible,for which China expressed understanding and support.

Full text of Putin's signed article for Xinhua (Полный текст статьи Путина для Синьхуа) / China, February, 2022
Keywords: vladimir_putin, quotation

BEIJING -- A signed article by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin titled "Russia and China: A Future-Oriented Strategic Partnership" was published by Xinhua News Agency on Thursday.

The following is the full text of the article:

Russia and China: A Future-Oriented Strategic Partnership

Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

On the eve of my upcoming visit to China, I am pleased to communicate directly with the Chinese and foreign audience of Xinhua, the largest news agency.

Our countries are close neighbours bound by centuries-old traditions of friendship and trust. We highly appreciate that Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, entering a new era, has reached an unprecedented level and become a model of efficiency, responsibility, and aspiration for the future. Last year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. The basic principles and guidelines for joint work were defined by our two countries in the treaty, which include first and foremost, equality, consideration of one another's interests, freedom from political and ideological circumstances as well as from the vestiges of the past. These are the principles we consistently build on year after year in the spirit of continuity to deepen our political dialogue. Despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we are striving to build the capacity of economic partnerships and expand people-to-people exchanges.

During the upcoming visit, President Xi Jinping and I will thoroughly discuss key issues on the bilateral, regional, and global agendas. It is symbolic that our meeting will take place during the Spring Festival - the Chinese Lunar New Year. After all, as the Chinese saying goes, "The whole year's work depends on a good start in spring."

The development of business ties will certainly be given special attention. There is every opportunity for this as our countries have substantial financial, industrial, technological and human resources allowing us to successfully resolve long-term development issues. Working together, we can achieve stable economic growth and improve the well-being of our citizens, strengthen our competitiveness, and stand together against today's risks and challenges.

At the end of 2021, the volume of mutual trade increased by more than a third, exceeding the record level of $140 billion. We are well on the way towards our goal of increasing the volume of trade to $200 billion a year. A number of important initiatives are being implemented in the investment, manufacturing, industrial and agricultural sectors. In particular, the portfolio of the Intergovernmental Commission on Investment Cooperation includes 65 projects worth over $120 billion. This is about collaboration in such fields as mining and mineral processing, infrastructure construction, and agriculture.

We are consistently expanding settlements in national currencies and creating mechanisms to offset the negative impact of unilateral sanctions. A major milestone in this work was the signing of an agreement between the Government of Russia and the Government of China on payments and settlements in 2019.

A mutually beneficial energy partnership is being formed between our countries. Along with long-term oil and gas supplies to China, we have plans to implement a number of large-scale joint projects. The construction of four new power units at Chinese nuclear power plants with the participation of Rosatom State Corporation launched last year is one of them. All this significantly strengthens the energy security of China and the Asia region as a whole.

We see an array of opportunities in developing partnerships in information and communication technologies, medicine, space exploration, including the use of national navigation systems and the International Lunar Research Station project. A strong impetus to strengthening bilateral ties was given by the cross Years of Russian-Chinese Scientific and Technological Innovation in 2020-2021.

We are grateful to our Chinese colleagues for their assistance in launching the production of Russian Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines in China and for the timely supply of necessary protective equipment to our country. We hope that this cooperation will develop and strengthen.

One of Russia's strategic objectives is to accelerate the social and economic development of Siberia and the Russian Far East. These territories are in the immediate neighborhood of China. We also intend to actively develop sub-national cooperation. Thus, the modernization of the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway has been started. By 2024, their capacity will increase one and a half times through higher volumes of transit cargo and reduced transport time. The port infrastructure in the Russian Far East is also growing. All this should further enhance the complementarity of the Russian and Chinese economies.

And, of course, the conservation of nature and shared ecosystems remains an important area of local and cross-border cooperation. These issues have always been a focus of our countries' public attention, and we will certainly discuss them in detail during the meeting, as well as a wide range of people-to-people and cultural topics.

Russia and China are countries with thousands of years of unique traditions and celebrated cultural heritage. Interest in Russian and Chinese cultures is high in both and other countries. It is true that in the last two years the number of tourists, joint big-scale events and direct contacts between our citizens has reduced due to the pandemic. However, I have no doubt that we will catch up and, as soon as the situation allows, will launch new outreach and educational programs to introduce our citizens to the history and present-day life of the two countries. Thus, President Xi Jinping and I have agreed to hold the Years of Sports Exchanges in 2022 and 2023.

Certainly, an important part of the visit will be a discussion of relevant international topics. Foreign policy coordination between Russia and China is based on close and coinciding approaches to solving global and regional issues. Our countries play an important stabilizing role in today's challenging international environment, promoting greater democracy in the system of international relations to make it more equitable and inclusive. We are working together to strengthen the central coordinating role of the United Nations in global affairs and to prevent the international legal system, with the UN Charter at its centre, from being eroded.

Russia and China are actively cooperating on the broadest agenda within BRICS, the Russia-India-China framework, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as well as other multilateral frameworks. Within the G20, we are committed to taking national specifics into account when formulating our recommendations, be it the fight against pandemics or the implementation of the climate agenda. Thanks to a large extent to our countries' shared solidarity, following the 2021 G20 Summit in Rome, informed decisions were made on international cooperation to restore economic growth, recognize vaccines and vaccine certificates, optimize energy transition, and reduce the risks of digitalization.

We also have convergent positions on international trade issues. We advocate maintaining an open, transparent and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system based on the rules of the World Trade Organization. We support restoring global supply chains. Back in March 2020, Russia proposed an initiative on "green trade corridors" that excludes any sanctions, political and administrative barriers. Its implementation is a useful aid to overcoming the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing will be a major event of global significance. Russia and China are leading sporting nations renowned for their sporting traditions and have hosted large international sports games more than once. I fondly remember my visit to Beijing in August 2008 to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Guests and athletes from Russia will remember the vivid performance for a long time, and the Games themselves were organized with the exceptional hospitality inherent to our Chinese friends. For our part, we were delighted to host President Xi Jinping at the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Sadly, attempts by a number of countries to politicize sports for their selfish interests have recently intensified. This is fundamentally wrong and contrary to the very spirit and principles of the Olympic Charter. The power and greatness of sports are that they bring people together, give moments of triumph and national pride as well as delight with fair, just and unwavering competition. And these approaches are shared by most of the countries participating in the international Olympic Movement.

Our Chinese friends have done tremendous work to prepare well for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. I am convinced that China's extensive experience in the excellent organization of representative international competitions will make it possible to hold this global festival of sports of the highest level. I would like to wish the Russian and Chinese teams impressive results and new records!

I send my warmest congratulations to the friendly people of China on the occasion of the Spring Festival, which marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. I wish you good health, prosperity, and success.

US reportedly pressured Brazilian president to cancel upcoming trip to Russia (Сообщается, что США оказали давление на президента Бразилии, чтобы тот отменил предстоящую поездку в Россию) / Russia, February, 2022
Keywords: Jair_Bolsonaro, political_issues

Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst

Washington has reportedly pressured Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Argentinian President Alberto Fernández to cancel their visits to Moscow in a move that would seek to isolate their Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin amid the current tensions over Ukraine, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper said.

According to the article, American diplomats expressed concern about the timing of Bolsonaro's visit to Moscow. In the opinion of the White House, Putin's reception of Bolsonaro would send the message that Brazil supports the Kremlin's actions in Eastern Europe, giving legitimacy to what the US considers a violation of international law.

The Brazilian outlet said the same message was sent to Argentina, whose president visits Russia this week and has just verbally sealed an agreement with the IMF for the restructuring of a debt for $44.5 billion. The newspaper also maintains that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken again raised his concern with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos França that Bolsonaro's trip to Russia could be interpreted as a sign that Brazil is taking sides in the conflict. However, the article states that there has been no explicit request to cancel Bolsonaro's agenda in Russia.

On January 31, in an interview with TV Record, Bolsonaro stated that he does not intend to discuss the Ukraine crisis with Putin.

"We hope that everything will be resolved in the greatest atmosphere of tranquillity and harmony, Brazil is a peaceful country. Obviously, if this [Ukrainian crisis] issue gets on the agenda, it will be on president Putin's part and not on our side," Bolsonaro said.

Brazilian diplomats clarified that, so far, there is no will to cancel the trip to Moscow.

This also comes as Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão said he does not believe Russia wants to invade Ukraine. He also ruled out that tensions in the region would prevent Bolsonaro's trip to Moscow in mid-February from being cancelled.

"I don't think [the crisis] will get worse between now and then," Mourão said, adding that Brazil is "separated from the conflict. One should keep in mind that Brazil and Russia are members of the BRICS group, and [that we] are partners. It is important for us to have business relations with that country, and this should be taken into account."

Brazil's Vice President, a former military officer, stressed that tensions in the region stem back to 2014 when Crimea reunited with Russia. He highlighted that "[Moscow] considers the Eastern Europe region as its zone of influence. When NATO advances in that region, Russia exercises its right to retaliate." Mourão also said that Brazil's principles are non-interventionist and emphasized the country's sovereignty.

Bolsonaro is a conservative politician who sympathized more with Trump than with Biden. In this context, Brazil's president can demonstrate independence, even if he is certainly less inclined towards a partnership with Russia and China than his predecessors.

It is recalled that Bolsonaro, especially during the Trump presidency, was one of the world's loudest critics of China. This was despite the fact that the Asian country is Brazil's largest trading partner. It is for this reason that if former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were elected in October, his administration would not seek a preferential relationship with China above its good ties with the US, the EU and Latin America, according to Lula's former foreign minister Celso Amorim.

In a recent interview, Amorim said Brazilian foreign policy would be "pragmatic and not ideological" if Lula returns to power. "You cannot ignore the fact that China is the fastest growing economy and will be the world's largest economy by the end of the decade."

Lula already has more global respect as he sought a balanced foreign policy for Brazil. This was in polar opposition to Bolsonaro who aligned his country's foreign policy with Washington to the deprivation of relations with Beijing.

However, this has begun to change, especially after Trump was ousted from the White House.

In fact, ex-Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Ernesto Araújo said on the former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon's popular War Room podcast that Brazil is the "world champion in corruption" and said that Chinese interests had "penetrated" the Bolsonaro government.

With the defeat of conservatism in the previous US election, Bolsonaro lost an ideological ally, and has since then scaled back his continued criticisms of China. In this way, Brasília is once again finding greater independence in its foreign policy, whether it be because of Lula's presidential challenge on Bolsonaro or the change of leadership in Washington. For this reason, despite pressure from the US, Bolsonaro is unlikely to cancel his trip to Moscow.

BRICS membership yields benefits for S. Africa: Gov't (Членство в БРИКС выгодно для Южной Африки: правительство) / China, February, 2022
Keywords: cooperation, political_issues

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- BRICS membership has yielded benefits for the country and is expected to do so for the rest of the continent, said the South Africa government in its 2020/21 yearbook released on Wednesday.

It said the country continues to use its BRICS membership for skills and technology transfers, capacity building, investment attracting, as well as addressing unemployment, poverty, and inequality.

"South Africa derives crucial benefits through Track II institutions, such as the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS Think-Tank Council, as well as the creation of the BRICS Inter-Bank Cooperation Mechanism," it said.

"Furthermore, the establishment of the BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Funding Mechanism and Framework Programme, is an example of the vital support for capacity building, as well as skills and technology transfer. BRICS cooperation in the fields of digitalization, industrialization, and innovation was further enhanced through the establishment of the BRICS New Partnership for Industrial Revolution," it said.

Efforts continue within BRICS on common objectives, including addressing challenges in respective regions and the world at large. BRICS also continues to provide alternative market access as well as strategic political support in pursuit of a just and equitable world.

The yearbook said South Africa's economy contracted by an estimated 7.2 percent in 2020, however, the situation has improved because of the easing of the lockdown and "faster than the expected resumption of global growth, especially in China".
The Twists & Turns Of Russian-Indian Ties Over The Past Few Years (Перипетии российско-индийских отношений за последние несколько лет) / Russia, February, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

President Putin's visit to India in early December was a global geostrategic game-changer that unlocked the exciting potential for both Great Powers to align their respective Eurasian "balancing" strategies with a view towards eventually assembling a new Non-Aligned Movement ("Neo-NAM"). This came about as a result of two parallel processes: the 18-month-long sequence of complications in Indian-American relations and the gradual improvement of Russian-Indian relations after the past few years of twists and turns. The present piece covers the second-mentioned development, which is integral to understand in order to appreciate the importance of Putin's trip.

Russian-Indian relations steadily eroded since the end of the Old Cold War after Moscow was unable to function as New Delhi's reliable partner in anything other than meeting its military-technical needs, which was still no doubt significant but nevertheless resulted in the loss of grand strategic importance that their de facto 1971 alliance used to have for Eurasian affairs. Former Russian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov sought to change that by laying the seeds for BRICS and the SCO, but his country still struggled to restore its Old Cold War-era comprehensive strategic relations with India despite joint statements to that effect in the proceeding years.

2014 was a game-changer for Russian-Indian relations even though neither realized it at the time. The US' simultaneous provocations against Russia and China in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea pushed those two Great Powers together, which created the perception among some Indians that Moscow was at risk of eventually becoming Beijing's junior partner. Furthermore, the election of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Modi that same year resulted in a recalibration of India's multi-alignment policy closer towards the US due to his party's concerns about China. That in turn created the perception among some Russians that New Delhi was at risk of becoming Washington's junior partner.

Russia also began to improve its relations with Pakistan due to shared security concerns stemming from Afghanistan, which further reinforced India's negative perceptions about Moscow's foreign policy tilt, especially after the Kremlin organized the Moscow peace process for that war-torn country. At the same time, though, India began to institutionalize its comprehensive multilateral cooperation with the US-led Quad that many observers considered to be an emerging anti-Chinese military alliance at the time, which in turn reinforced Russia's negative perceptions about New Delhi's foreign policy tilt. Without being all that consciously aware of it, American moves succeeded in sowing distrust between those two.

Although Russia and India have decades of time-tested and trust-filled relations, it appears as though neither side felt comfortable talking too openly about the proverbial elephants in the room: India's suspicion of Chinese influence on Russia and Russia's suspicion of American influence on India. Both regularly reaffirmed that they treasure their hard-earned strategic autonomy and won't ever do anything with any third party that endangers the other's interests, yet each side remained unconvinced due to what they were observing on the geopolitical front. The presumable lack of candid conversations for whatever reason ended up prolonging their misperceptions of the other's foreign policy drivers.

This state of mutually suspicious affairs was intensified by Russia institutionalizing its newfound relations with China and Pakistan through Moscow's decision to synchronize its Eurasian Economic Union (EAU) with Beijing's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the Kremlin's progress in clinching the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline deal and exploring the possibility of participating in last February's agreement to build a Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ) railway. On the other side of the coin, India signed three foundational pacts with the US military and began purchasing many more American arms while significantly decreasing its purchase of Russian ones for some time until recently.

What had slowly ended up happening is that Russia and India continued telling the other that they had nothing to fear from their respective foreign policy reorientations yet both of them subconsciously projected zero-sum motivations onto the other due to the optics involved which each feared could negatively impact on their respective national security interests whether directly or indirectly. India was worried that Russia's comprehensively improved relations with China and Pakistan could somehow or another "embolden" those two to actively work against its interests while Russia was worried that India's participation in anti-Chinese military alliances could destabilize China and thus indirectly Russia.

It wasn't until the months leading up to Foreign Minister Lavrov's trip to New Delhi in early 2021 and that actual trip itself that Russia and India seemingly finally had the long-overdue candid discussions that they should have had a while ago about their respective concerns regarding the other's foreign policy tilt in recent years. They eventually realized that they want the same thing ("balancing" Eurasian affairs in an increasingly bi-multipolar world order) but are doing so in different ways (Russia was moving closer to China and Pakistan due to US pressure while India was moving closer to the US due to America's enticement of it to join the nascent anti-Chinese Quad military alliance).

Russia and India learned that they can do so much more together in pursuit of their shared "balancing" interests if they coordinate their moves as much as possible while still respecting the other's relations with third parties, including those that are the other's rivals. This pragmatism distinguishes the recently clinched de facto Russian-Indian hemispheric-wide "balancing" alliance in the New Cold War from its 1971 predecessor half a century ago from the Old Cold War. Furthermore, the simultaneous 18-month-long sequence of complications in India-American relations weakened the influence of anti-Chinese foreign policy hardliners to the benefit of Russian-friendly moderates, which facilitated Putin's visit.

The twists and turns of Russian-Indian relations over the past few years were in hindsight entirely due to the US' unilateral foreign policy moves against Moscow and Beijing in parallel with its anti-Chinese outreaches to India's then-new government. Neither Russia nor India meant to signal any negative intent towards the other through the respective recalibration of their "balancing" acts in these American-provoked geostrategic circumstances, but their failure to have candid discussions with one another over their rising mutual suspicions of the other's foreign policy intent resulted in the perpetuation of foreign policy misperceptions.

The present renaissance in their strategic relations is due both to their proactive interest in resolving their lingering misperceptions but also curiously enough the US' own unilateral foreign policy moves once again with respect to abusing India as a vassal state and thus compelling it to recalibrate its multi-alignment policy back towards its historical Russian-friendly direction. There might still be some misunderstandings between these two from time to time, but after having weathered the unprecedented twists and turns in their relations over the past few years, they're better equipped to more responsibly manage them than before so no serious misperceptions are expected in the future.

Xi calls on SCO, BRICS mechanisms to play bigger roles (Си призвал механизмы ШОС и БРИКС играть более активную роль) / China, February, 2022
Keywords: Xi_Jinping, cooperation, quotation

BEIJING -- President Xi Jinping on Friday called on China and Russia to view the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) from a strategic and long-term perspective, move in the right direction and better safeguard the security and common interests of its member states.

Xi made the remarks during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing.

Hailing the SCO's extraordinary course of development over the past 20 years, Xi said it has become an important constructive force in the international community.

China is ready to work with Russia to enable the BRICS cooperation mechanism to play a bigger role in upholding multilateralism, strengthening anti-pandemic cooperation and promoting economic recovery, and make a greater contribution to global development while realizing the development of the five BRICS countries, he said.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
China-India Cooperation in Digital Economy Has Great Potential (Китайско-индийское сотрудничество в области цифровой экономики имеет большой потенциал) / China, January, 2022
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

By Xiaoyu Zhang

Several international consultancy firms found that Indias digital economy is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world and its development journey is following Chinas. From a rational perspective, as two of the largest emerging economies with the most internet users in the world, China and India have great potential in boosting cooperation in the digital economy, but with conditions.

According to latest statistics, bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 30 percent in 2021 and reached a historic high of $125.6 billion. It has proven that no matter how much India media hype the so-called boycott of goods, trade between China and India still saw great vitality.

In 2021, Indias imports of integrated circuits from China grew by 147 percent, while the imports of laptops and PCs grew by 77 percent. Aside from that, the Indian smartphone market experienced a strong recovery with annual shipments reaching a record 162 million units, in which China's Xiaomi took the lead by shipping 40.5 million units. Data suggests Indias great demand for infrastructure goods in the digital economy and China can provide sufficient supply, proving that the Chinese and Indian markets are highly complementary.

Indias digital progress has further accelerated amid the pandemic as consumers relied on technology to meet daily needs, from purchasing daily necessities and accessing online learning, to health services. It is said the Indian digital economy journey mirrors Chinas. The research results showed that current Indian digital economy development is just like Chinas seven to eight years ago.

As a comparatively mature digital market, China does have great experience to share with India. Chinese tech and internet enterprises have also invested in the Indian market. Alibaba and Tencent, for instance, have invested in the fields of fintech, e-commerce, and online entertainment, among others. A good example is Paytm, the biggest Indian mobile payment company invested in by Alibaba, finished its listing in the Mumbai stock market. The success of Paytm will transform Indians payment modes and the maps of e-commerce.

However, looking back to the past two decades, Chinese investments were not that welcome by the Indian market. Chinese direct investment in India accounted for a mere 0.51 percent of total FDI in India. And these investments concentrated in technology start-ups. It is not hard to see New Delhis protectionist attitude toward Chinese investment and sometimes extreme cases do happen, such as the abrupt, unwarranted tax inspection by Indian authorities against Chinese companies, or the sudden abandonment of Chinese apps in the Indian market.

Some Indian officials said these moves would protect Indias national enterprises and industries. Unfortunately, most of the market share was taken up by US and other Western rivals. These sort of retrograde trade policies, to some extent, are short-sighted and even damaging Indias commercial reputation globally. According to a UN report, FDI flows to India slipped by 26 percent in 2021. If India abandoned its economic nationalism measures, the future would be very different.

If we take a broader view at Sino-Indian cooperation in the field of the digital economy, it is clear that China and India share a likely vision. On the one hand, top Chinese leaders have long attached great importance to the development of digital technology and the digital economy.

On the other hand, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, proposed the Digital India initiative in 2015 with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge-based economy, especially to develop secure and stabilize digital infrastructure and deliver universal digital literacy.

According to a White Paper on China's Digital Economy Development (2021), the digital economy accounts for 38.6 percent of Chinas GDP. Meanwhile, the Indias digital economys contribution to GDP is expected to reach 20 percent in the next five years. It is apparent that the digital economy is the driving force for economic growth.

Just like what was proposed in the first Sherpas meeting of the BRICS in January 2022, the digital economy is one of the eight main fields for further cooperation among members. That means the platform for cooperation is ready. Whether or not to grasp the historical opportunity depends on the decision from the Indian side. If New Delhi shows sincerity, the cooperation in digital economy will likely be a close link between two giants. A Chinese idiom may be helpful for Chinas Indian friends - harmony brings wealth, while peace breeds success.

Xiaoyu Zhang, a research fellow at Centre for BRICS Studies, Communication University of China and a distinguished research fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Xiangtan University.

Global Times

Since 2020, Brazil Receives the Largest Share of Loans at BRICS Bank (С 2020 года Бразилия получает наибольшую долю кредитов в НБР) / Brazil, February, 2022
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

The multilateral bank approved nine projects in the period-more than US$4 billion in investments. While the number of Brazilian projects in the NDB has increased, Brazilian participation in financing in the World Bank is lower.

The NDB (New Development Bank) was created in 2016 to foster infrastructure projects in the BRICS countries -Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Since 2020, Brazil has had nine financing projects approved by the Brics Bank, an informal name for the NDB.

The number represents US$4.4 billion in investments, according to a survey by the Poder360 newspaper.

The total number of projects puts Brazil in 1st place among the nine members of the institution - China, Russia, India, South Africa, and, since 2021, Bangladesh, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay.

The Rio Times

World of Work
Brics Countries Cultural Exchanges in Covid Era (Культурные обмены стран БРИКС в эпоху Ковида) / India, February, 2022
Keywords: social_issues, covid-19

I've been frequently writing about the damages that the culture sector has faced with Covid. Not only have livelihoods of artists and performers been finished, but an equally important aspect of face-to-face interactions and exchanges between people has been altered.

At the BRICS Media Forum, where I am currently engaged with sharing ideas and experiences with 25 other fellow journalists from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa; I raised my concern on this issue. Of course, like everything else, this forum has also shifted online after a gap of one year. Under the 'Chairship of China this year, the BRICS International Journalism Program would have been a physical gathering in Beijing with a daily exchange of ideas but it is now across our laptop screens with recorded sessions and online chats. Given the circumstances, this is the best option to keep the conversation going.

In the context of BRICS, a lot of joint festivals between our countries have been impacted as well. But the countries have stood together to ensure some exchange continues in the hybrid mode, managed during relatively low phases of Covid whenever possible.

"One of these is now taking place in the Urals called the Meet BRICS Art. The exposition is designed in a 3D space, where visitors can 'walk', looking at paintings, get acquainted with new artists. I think that modern technologies like VR or 3D modeling will help to at least partially replace LIVE meetings", says Elijah Goncharov, journalist at the Sputnik.

This virtual international Meet BRICS Art project has artists participating from different regions of the five countries. The program includes a series of online meetings between professional artists and a 3D exhibition of their work. More than 100 works of art can be seen by online visitors.

Similarly, in 2021, when India was handling the Chairship of BRICS, we had brought together filmmakers of BRICS nations to the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. For the first time, the BRICS film festival happened alongside IFFI as a special feature. But this was strictly in the hybrid format where there was a limited footfall for physical screenings in the auditorium. Many registered delegates had to watch the films online.

There were many ideas thrown in during my discussion which can be worth trying. Jehran Naidoo, Political Journalist from South Africa opines, "BRICS countries could each appoint a delegate to be present during a virtual festival. Produce short videos and place them LIVE on a common BRICS platform where each country handles it's own tab."

"Since China has just taken over the BRICS Chairship, I think we can expect more online cultural exchanges hosted by China later this year", says a confident Jiang Yujia from the Xinhua news agency.

We move ahead in similar faith to increase such exchanges in the hybrid world and boost cultural prosperity irrespective of the barriers created by pandemic.

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